Latvia will downgrade diplomatic ties with Russia, foreign minister says

Eleanor Pickston

Latvia will downgrade its diplomatic ties with Russia, Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said on Twitter Monday.

This decision was made in solidarity with Estonia, and it will go into effect on Feb. 24, he added.

The move comes after Moscow downgraded its diplomatic relations with Estonia and expelled the Estonian ambassador over allegations of “Russophobia.”

Pressure continues to mount on Germany to authorize the delivery of Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine, with Poland pushing for other countries to join it in a “small coalition” willing to transfer the German-made tanks to Kyiv.

Elsewhere, Russia has expelled the Estonian ambassador over accusations of “Russophobia,” and the Kremlin has refused to be drawn on whether Russian President Vladimir Putin will run for re-election in 2024.

Here are the latest headlines:

  • Poland pushing for tank transfer: The Polish government will send Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine if it manages to “build at least… a small coalition of states” who would do the same, according to Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. Any transfer of Leopard 2 tanks would typically require permission from Germany, but Poland would be willing to transfer the German-made tanks with or without Berlin’s approval if other states did too, said Morawiecki.
  • Berlin says it hasn’t received any request: Germany’s government has not received a request from Poland or any other country for permission to transfer the tanks to Ukraine, said spokesman Steffen Hebestreit. “And if they ask, then there is a certain procedure. I can’t tell you whether that will take a few days or several months,” said Hebestriet.
  • Ukraine would suffer, says Kremlin: Ukraine will bear the consequences if third countries supply it with tanks, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. “All the countries that directly or indirectly take part in the pumping [of Ukraine] with weapons and in raising their technological level, are all responsible for it,” Peskov said Monday.
  • Russia expels ambassador: Russia has downgraded its diplomatic relations with Estonia and expelled the country’s ambassador over allegations of “Russophobia.” The move comes after Estonia hosted a meeting of Western defense officials in its capital city Tallinn last week to pledge further military support to Ukraine.
  • Kremlin coy on Putin reelection: It is “too early” to talk about a potential 2024 election bid for Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. “The president has not made any statements in this regard,” Peskov told reporters Monday when asked whether Putin was seeking to run again.


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