Russia expels two Colombian diplomats in retaliatory move

Colombia’s Defensse Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at a meeting in Moscow, Russia.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday declared two Colombian diplomats personae non gratae in a tit-for-tat move after the expulsion of two Russians diplomats from the South American country.

The Russian foreign ministry said it had summoned the Colombian ambassador on December 22 to protest against the “groundless decision” to expel two diplomats from the Russian Embassy in Bogota.

The envoy was also informed of Moscow’s decision to declare personae non gratae to two employees of the Colombian diplomatic mission, the ministry said in a statement.

Colombian authorities said on Tuesday that two Russian diplomats had left their embassy posts and could not return. Local media outlets reported that the men were allegedly involved in espionage.

Reports by news magazine Semana and newspaper El Tiempo, among others, said the two men were tasked with obtaining military intelligence and information about the energy industry and mineral commodities. Several outlets named the men.

In an interview with television outlet NTN24, Colombian President Ivan Duque declined to reveal more information about the issue, saying it would go against the principle of continuing good bilateral relations with Russia.

They left on December 8, Juan Francisco Espinosa, head of Colombia’s migration agency, told a news conference. He declined to say what prompted their exit but said government entities work together to confront potential security risks.

“The reasons which motivated the exit are unconnected to the migration agency and are due to state decisions which I prefer not to reference,” Espinosa said.

“Given the circumstances in which these two officials, these two people, left, they cannot return to the country in the short term,” he said.

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