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Moscow decries Germany’s 'ill-thought-out’ move after Berlin closes Russian consulates

One Russian consulate general as well as the Russian embassy in Berlin will continue to operate. (Getty Images file photo)

Berlin has closed four of Russia’s five consulates in Germany as bilateral ties between the two countries have hit a new low over the Ukraine war. Moscow has denounced the decision as an "ill-thought-out" move and vowed a response.

On Wednesday, the German foreign ministry said that it has decided to drastically reduce Russia’s diplomatic presence on the country's soil and told the Kremlin to close four of the five currently operating Russian consulates in the country by November.

The decision "was communicated to the Russian foreign ministry today," said German Foreign Ministry spokesperson Christofer Burger at a press conference, adding that the move came after Moscow put a limit of 350 on the number of German government personnel allowed in Russia.

"Therefore, we have decided to withdraw the operating license of 4 of the 5 (Russian) consulates general operating in Germany," he said, emphasizing that "the Russian government has taken a step aimed at escalating tensions."

"This unjustified decision forces the government to make very substantial cuts in all areas of its presence in Russia," Burger added,

Russia slams 'provocative actions'

Russia slammed Germany’s decision to reduce Russian diplomatic presence on its soil and vowed a proper response to Berlin’s "ill-thought-out" provocation. 

"There should be no doubt in Berlin that these ill-thought-out provocative actions will not remain without our proper reaction," the Russian foreign ministry said.

Relations between Germany and Russia have been very strained for months over Berlin's military support for Ukraine.

Russia's order to reduce German presence on its soil means that hundreds of civil servants and local employees working for German institutions in the Russian Federation will have to leave the country.

According to Burger, Moscow's decision would include closing the German consulates in Kaliningrad, Yekaterinburg and Novosibirsk, with operations to be significantly limited and discontinued by November.

However, Germany's embassy in the capital Moscow and its consulate in Saint Petersburg will not be affected.

"For the Russian presence in Germany, our decisions apply reciprocally... in order to ensure a balance of the mutual presences both in terms of personnel and structure," Burger further said.

The Kremlin slammed Berlin's move as "ill thought out", vowing a response.

"There should be no doubt in Berlin that these ill-thought-out provocative actions will not remain without our proper reaction," said the Russian foreign ministry in a statement, without providing further details.

Back in April, Berlin expelled several Russian diplomats "to reduce the presence of intelligence services", prompting a retaliatory response from Moscow, which expelled around 20 German embassy staff.

Earlier in May, Berlin announced plans to ship a massive package of weaponry for Ukraine worth 2.7 billion euros in its latest bid to further fuel the US-led war effort against Russia.

Berlin’s arms package for Kiev includes 20 Marder infantry fighting vehicles, 30 Leopard 1 tank, 15 Gepard anti-aircraft tanks, 200 reconnaissance drones, four additional Iris-T anti-aircraft systems including ammunition, additional artillery ammunition and more than 200 armored combat and logistics vehicles.

Germany, along with the United States, has served as one of the biggest suppliers of weaponry to Ukrainian military.

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