The Russian Foreign Ministry said Friday (August 5) that Moscow had declared 14 Bulgarian embassy staff persona non grata, leaving the country almost without a diplomatic presence.
Four of the expelled officials are diplomats, the other 10 are technical staff, the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry said in a Facebook post.
Earlier this summer, Bulgaria expelled 70 Russian diplomatic and technical staff on espionage grounds and set a cap on the size of Moscow’s representation as relations between two countries that were once close allies soured. are fractured about Ukraine.
Bulgaria finds itself almost without diplomatic personnel in Russia after the expulsion, EURACTIV Bulgaria reported.
On the other hand, even after the expulsion of the 70 staff members, the Russian Embassy still has a staff of more than 40 people in Sofia.
In a statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry blamed this “counterproductive measure” on the government of outgoing Prime Minister Kiril Petkov.
Petkov, a pro-Western reformist, lost power after a vote of confidence on June 23.
Bulgaria is now ruled by an interim government appointed by President Rumen Radev.
Radev criticized Petkov for the expulsion of the 70 embassy employees. It remains unclear how he plans to renew ties in the run-up to the Oct. 2 election.
[Edited by Alice Taylor]