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Finland to expel nine Russian diplomats over 'intelligence activities’

A police officer stands guard outside the Russian embassy in Helsinki, Finland, on April 8, 2022. (Photo by Reuters)

Finland says it will expel nine diplomats working at the Russian Embassy in Helsinki, accusing them of being engaged in intelligence activities, as relations between the two sides are at a deep low.  

The Finnish president's office announced the decision in a statement on Tuesday, saying the diplomat’s actions "violate the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations."

It did not provide further details but added that the Russian ambassador will be informed about the expulsion of the embassy personnel.  

The Russian embassy in Helsinki has yet to comment on the expulsion, but Moscow has already denied its diplomats’ engagement in improper activities.

The decision was made following a meeting between Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and the Government’s Foreign and Security Ministerial Committee, where the ongoing war on Ukraine and the explosion of the Nova Kakhovka dam were also discussed.

They condemned as “a humanitarian and environmental disaster” the destruction of the key dam in the Russian-controlled Kherson region which occurred early on Tuesday.

"The explosion marks an escalation of the war in a new way, causing widespread destruction in Ukraine for civilians and the environment alike," they said.

While Ukraine is blaming the Russian forces for the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam, Kherson’s mayor has accused Kiev of destroying the dam to mask the country's counteroffensive "failures" in the east.

Diplomatic turmoil is escalating between Moscow and Helsinki following Finland’s membership in the NATO military alliance.

Finland officially joined NATO in April despite repeated warnings from Russia.

Russia's reaction to the new membership was strong.

Russia's Foreign Ministry condemned the move at the time, saying Finland was committing a dangerous historic mistake by joining NATO and that the move would dilute the country's own influence on the world stage and hurt its ties with Moscow.

Finland shares a 1,340-kilometer eastern frontier with Russia, whose border with NATO has now doubled. Russia has vowed to bolster its military capacity in its western and northwestern regions, near the border with the Nordic country, if the alliance deploys any additional troops or equipment to its new member.

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