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Russia withdraws from the Council of Baltic Sea States

Russia withdraws from the Council of Baltic Sea States - Photo 1.

Russian warships conduct exercises in the Baltic Sea – Photo: AFP

On May 17, Russia announced its withdrawal from the Council of Baltic Sea States (CBSS), amid rising tensions with the West over a “special military operation” in Ukraine.

The Baltic Sea is a part of the Atlantic Ocean bordered by the Scandinavian peninsula, Central Europe, Eastern Europe, and the Danish archipelago.

According to AFP news agency, Russia’s foreign ministry said CBSS was becoming “an instrument of anti-Russian policy”.

“We consider our presence in the CBSS to be ineffective and counterproductive,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Moscow said CBSS planned to hold a meeting in Norway on May 25 without Russia’s participation, and accused CBSS of stealing Russian contributions to the group’s budget.

Although it has left the organization, Moscow insists it will still have a presence in the Baltic region.

“Attempts to oust our country from the Baltic region will all fail,” the Russian foreign ministry added.

In another statement on the same day, Moscow forced two employees of the Finnish embassy in Russia to leave Russia in response to a similar move from Helsinki.

The Russian Foreign Ministry announced that it had summoned the Finnish ambassador to Moscow and expressed “strong opposition” to Helsinki’s expulsion of two Russian diplomats in April.

Moscow also accused Finland of taking a “confrontational line” with Russia and supplying Ukraine with weapons.

“The Russian side has decided it is unacceptable that two employees of the Finnish Embassy in Moscow continue to stay in the Russian Federation,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Since the “special military operation” in Ukraine began, the West has expelled dozens of Russian diplomats, and Russia has retaliated with similar moves.

Finland shares a 1,340 km land border with Russia. The country recently confirmed its intention to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) after decades of maintaining a policy of neutrality.

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