Iceland will suspend work at its embassy in Moscow as of August 1 and asked Russia to limit its operations in Reykjavik. "All of Reykjavik's anti-Russian actions will inevitably prompt a response," the Russian foreign ministry responded.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iceland has decided to suspend operations of the Embassy of Iceland in Moscow from August 1st, and becomes the first NATO country to take that step.
June 9, the Icelandic Ministry for Foreign Affairs summoned the Russian Ambassador to Iceland, to inform him of this decision. Furthermore, Iceland has requested that Russia limit the operations of its Embassy in Reykjavík, in line with article 11 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, and that the level of diplomatic representation be lowered.
"This is not an easy decision as Iceland has enjoyed rich relations with the people of Russia since our independence in 1944. However, the current situation simply does not make it viable for the small foreign service of Iceland to operate an embassy in Russia. I hope that conditions will someday allow for us to have normal and fruitful relations with Russia, but that depends on decisions taken by the Kremlin," said Foreign Minister Thordis Gylfadottir in a press release.
Iceland operates eighteen bilateral embassies in foreign capitals, prioritizing their location in line with the extent of economic, political and cultural ties or development cooperation.
At the moment, commercial, cultural or political relations with Russia are at an all-time low. Hence, maintaining operations of the embassy of Iceland in Moscow is no longer justifiable.
Destroys the entire range of Russian-Icelandic cooperation.
Iceland has been operating an embassy in Moscow since 1944, except between 1951-1953, when there was no trade between the countries. The Soviet Union did not have an ambassador in Reykjavík from 1948-1954.
A decision to suspend the operations of the Embassy of Iceland in Moscow does not constitute a severance of diplomatic relations. As soon as conditions permit, Iceland will prioritize the resumption of operations of the Embassy of Iceland in Moscow.
"Russia's actions have undermined all normal relations", Gylfadottir added in a Twitter statement
Destroys bilateral cooperation
According to News Agency Reuters, Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Saturday that Iceland's decision to suspend its embassy operations in Moscow "destroys" bilateral cooperation.
"The decision taken by the Icelandic authorities to lower the level of diplomatic relations with Russia destroys the entire range of Russian-Icelandic cooperation," the Russian Foreign Ministry said i a statement.
"We will take this unfriendly decision into account when building our ties with Iceland in the future. All anti-Russian actions of Reykjavik will inevitably be followed by a corresponding reaction," it stated.
The Russian Embassy in Reykjavík currently employs three diplomats and five staff members.
The Icelandic Foreign Minister stated that "it is not normal that there is so much Russian activity here in Reykjavík because of the way relations are very limited and will remain so until the Russians decide to behave in a different way than they do now.”