Austria Expels Two Russian Diplomats and Austrian Ambassador in Moscow is Summoned

PeopleOther ♦ Published: March 14, 2024; 19:10 ♦ (Vindobona)

After Austria recently declared two Russian diplomats undesirable persons, Russia is now summoning Austria's ambassador to the Foreign Ministry. This indicates a serious deterioration in diplomatic relations between the two countries. So far, a total of eleven Russian diplomats have been expelled from Austria since 2020

The Austrian government has expelled two Russian diplomats from the country. / Picture: © Wikimedia Commons / C.Stadler/Bwag / CC BY-SA 4.0 (

The Foreign Ministry declared the two members of the Russian embassy in Vienna "undesirable persons" as they had carried out actions "incompatible with their diplomatic status". This description is often used in connection with espionage activities. Those affected must leave Austria by March 19.

This move marks a significant toughening of Austria's stance towards Russia after Vienna was known in the past for its cautious policy towards the expulsion of Russian diplomats. This reluctance was often justified by concerns about its own, much smaller representation in Moscow.

The Russian embassy in Vienna reacted with indignation to the expulsions and described the decision as "purely political". The embassy pointed out that Austria had not provided any evidence for the alleged violations of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Russia announced that it would react firmly to this move, which likely means that Austrian diplomats in Russia will face similar measures.

Russia reacts to Vienna diplomat expulsion

However, as the first reports from Moscow show, Austria won't have to wait long for these measures. In a clear reaction to this expulsion, Russia has summoned the Austrian ambassador, Dr. Werner Almhofer, to a meeting at the Foreign Ministry in Moscow. The Russian state news agency TASS reported, citing the Russian Foreign Ministry, that retaliatory measures will be taken at a later date.

The Russian Foreign Ministry strongly condemned Vienna's move in an official statement: "The Russian side strongly condemns this further unfriendly step by Vienna, for the consequences of which the Austrian authorities bear full responsibility."  The exact retaliatory measures that Russia will take have not yet been announced, but the summoning of the Austrian ambassador signals that Moscow is determined to respond to the expulsion of its diplomats.

Austria in a difficult diplomatic situation

Some Austrian parties have good connections to Russia and at the same time Austria wants to maintain its neutrality. However, Austria also faces enormous pressure from Russia. Since 2020, Austria has already expelled eleven Russian diplomats from the country. The expulsions come in the context of increasing tensions between the EU and Russia, particularly after the brutal Butsha massacre near Kyiv in April 2022.

The political opposition in Austria, represented by the NEOS, has called for further measures, including the expulsion of further Russian diplomats and the closure of the Russian Cultural Institute in Vienna, as reported by ORF. The NEOS criticized the Austrian government for its lack of decisiveness in its dealings with Russia and points out that a large proportion of Russian embassy staff are suspected spies.

According to the Foreign Ministry, the latest expulsions are not connected to a report in the Viennese weekly newspaper "Falter", which discusses contacts between Austrian politicians and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The accusations against certain FPÖ politicians have been firmly rejected by the party.

Austria's current diplomatic directory lists 60 Russian diplomats working in the country's bilateral representations. The recent events shed light on the strained relations between Austria and Russia and the complex nature of international diplomacy in times of global political tensions.

Austrian MFA

Russian Embassy Austria