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Russia Expels Estonian Consul On Spy Charges Baltic Country Calls 'Provocative'

Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) said it had detained the consul after allegedly catching him receiving classified documents. (illustrative photo)

Russia says it has given an Estonian diplomat 48 hours to leave after briefly detaining him for allegedly receiving classified documents in what the Baltic state called a "setup."

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on July 7 that Consul Mart Latte had been declared "persona non grata" for "intelligence-gathering activities incompatible with diplomatic status.”

The Federal Security Service (FSB) detained Latte, the consul in St. Petersburg, on July 6 but did not say what he supposedly received or from whom.

Estonia's Foreign Ministry called the detention another example of Russia choosing confrontation with the European Union, characterizing it as "unlawful and provocative."

Russia's relations with the West, including the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, have been tense in recent years over a host of actions by Moscow, including aggression against its neighbors, allegations of election interference and state-sponsored hacking, and human rights abuses at home.

The Kremlin has already expelled Estonian diplomats twice this year, both in retaliation for Estonia's expulsion of Russian diplomats.

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