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UK restricts movement of Russian diplomats

The tit-for-tat move will require Russian embassy staff to notify London about any planned trips outside a certain area

The road outside the Russian embassy is painted with the colors of the Ukrainian flag in London, Britain, February 25, 2023 ©  AP / Alberto Pezzali

The UK Foreign Office has imposed travel restrictions on Russian diplomats, requiring them to notify British authorities before journeying beyond their posts. The move is retaliatory, coming after the Russian Foreign Ministry announced similar rules for British diplomats in July.

“In response to Russia’s decision to impose travel notification requirements on British diplomats in Russia, we have introduced commensurate reciprocal travel notification requirements for Russian diplomats accredited to the Russian Embassy in London and the Consulate-General in Edinburgh,” UK Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign Office Leo Docherty wrote in a statement on the UK parliament website on Monday.

“This is in line with the concept of reciprocity in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations,” Docherty added.

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The announcement came four months after the Russian Foreign Ministry announced similar travel restrictions on British diplomats in Russia, citing the UK’s “hostile actions… including the obstruction of the normal functioning of Russian diplomatic offices.”

Under the Russian regulations, staff at the British embassy in Moscow and consulate general in Yekaterinburg are required to notify Russian authorities five days before any trips beyond 120 kilometers from their office buildings.

Docherty did not say whether the UK would impose a similar distance or notification time limit.

Under the Vienna Convention, a government must give foreign diplomats “freedom of movement and travel in its territory.” The convention does not, however, forbid governments from applying rules and regulations to make travel more difficult.

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