EU ministers push for restrictions on Russian diplomats’ movement

The letter, dated June 11 and obtained by Reuters, underscores growing concerns about the activities of Russian diplomats across the Schengen area. 

Eight European Union foreign ministers have called for stringent restrictions on the movement of Russian diplomats within the bloc. The proposal, outlined in a letter to EU foreign policy Chief Josep Borrell, seeks to confine Russian diplomatic personnel to the countries where they are officially accredited.

The letter, dated June 11 and obtained by Reuters, underscores growing concerns about the activities of Russian diplomats across the Schengen area.

This initiative comes amid heightened tensions between Russia and the West, exacerbated by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. The ministers argue that a substantial number of Russian diplomats in the EU are primarily engaged in intelligence gathering, propaganda dissemination, and even the preparation of potential sabotage acts.

While EU member states have already expelled numerous Russian diplomats in recent years, the ministers assert that the threat persists. They propose a strict adherence to the principle of reciprocity, suggesting that the EU should restrict the movement of members of Russian diplomatic missions and their family members to the territory of a state of their accreditation only.

This proposal represents a significant shift in the EU’s approach to diplomatic relations with Russia. If implemented, it would effectively end the longstanding practice of allowing accredited diplomats to travel freely within the Schengen Zone, a cornerstone of European integration.

The call for these restrictions reflects growing unease about Russia’s alleged use of diplomatic cover for activities deemed hostile to EU interests. It also highlights the evolving nature of diplomatic relations in an era of heightened geopolitical tensions and sophisticated espionage techniques.

Critics of the proposal may argue that such restrictions could further strain already tense EU-Russia relations and potentially lead to reciprocal actions against EU diplomats in Russia. Supporters, however, view it as a necessary step to safeguard European security interests.

The EU has yet to officially respond to this proposal. Any decision to implement such restrictions would require consensus among member states and would likely face intense scrutiny both within the EU and internationally.