Russia expelled two Swedish diplomats, reports Expressen newspaper quoting the spokesperson of the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs Patric Nilsson.
He called this decision "a response to the refusal to grant a Swedish visa to a Russian diplomat."
TASS news agency reported that the official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, also called the expulsion of diplomats a retaliation measure.
In December last year, Reuters news agency reported about the expulsion of a Swedish diplomat from Russia. Then, it was also explained as the response to the refusal to grant diplomatic visas to two Russian citizens.
The dispute between Russia and Sweden has been ongoing for several months. According to Expressen newspaper, one of the reasons was the scandal involving the embassy staff in Stockholm, Evgeny Umerenko. In February, the Swedish security services said that Umerenko, in one of the restaurants was meeting with a 45-year-old Swedish citizen who is allegedly recruited by Russia. Due to this, the Swedish counterintelligence officers assumed that Umerenko was a member of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service.
Despite the invitation for the Russian ambassador to come to the Swedish Foreign Ministry and repeated demands to send Umerenko home, the latter continued to be in Sweden, which caused discontent among local special services. He returned home only at the end of March. After that, Moscow requested diplomatic visas for new employees, but they were denied. Nilsson refused to comment on this.
In March last year, Sweden became one of the European countries that announced the expulsion of Russian diplomats after the poisoning of the ex-Colonel of the GRU Sergey Skripal and his daughter in the United Kingdom. Stockholm, in particular, announced the expulsion of one Russian diplomat. Swedish Prime Minister, Stephen Lefven, noted that the poisoning in Salisbury is "more than a bilateral issue between the United Kingdom and Russia."