The German government on Wednesday said it would shut down four out of five Russian consulates in the country by revoking their licenses, a tit-for-tat move after Moscow's decision to limit the number of German officials in Russia to 350.
The Russian government would be still be allowed to operate its embassy in Berlin and one general consulate but Germany expects the rest to cease operations by the end of the year, the foreign ministry said.
At the same time, Germany will close its own consulates in Kaliningrad, Yekaterinburg and Novosibirsk, leaving only the German embassy in Moscow and the consulate in St Petersburg in operation.
The decline in bilateral ties between Germany and Russia
The move by Berlin presents a sharp downgrading of bilateral ties amid a wider collapse in relations since Russia's invasion of Ukraine last year. Germany's foreign ministry accused Moscow of escalating tensions by imposing limits on the number of officials allowed to work in Russia.
"This unjustified decision is forcing the federal government to make very significant cuts in all areas of its presence in Russia," a spokesperson for the foreign ministry said on Wednesday.
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said a statement would be issued on the closures of the consulates, according to Russian news agencies.
Relations between Russia and Germany, which used to be the biggest buyer of Russian oil and gas, have broken down since the invasion in February 2022 and the West responded with sanctions and weapons supplies.
Germany is planning to remove scores of employees working at its missions in Russia after Moscow imposed limits on the numbers allowed to work in the country, including teachers and employees at the Goethe Institute