(Moscow) Russia announced Wednesday the expulsion of 10 Norwegian diplomats in response to that in mid-April of 15 employees of its embassy in Oslo suspected of espionage, in full deterioration of relations since the start of the offensive in Ukraine.

In a statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry said it had summoned the Norwegian ambassador, Robert Kvile, on Wednesday and informed him of these expulsions “ as part of retaliatory measures ”.

The ministry also expressed “a vigorous protest” against the expulsion of Russian diplomats from Oslo, regretting that this “hostile act” had further aggravated the state of relations which “were already at a critical low level without it”.

“Other measures will follow after the unfriendly acts in Oslo, including the introduction of restrictions on the recruitment by Norwegian diplomatic missions of employees with Russian nationality,” the ministry added.

Norwegian diplomacy, via one of its spokespersons, Ragnhild Simenstad, reacted immediately.

“We consider the Russian decision as a retaliatory action. All our diplomats in Russia carry out normal diplomatic work. The Russian authorities know this well,” she said.

A member of NATO whose borders it guards facing Russia in the Far North, this Scandinavian country announced in mid-April the expulsion of “15 intelligence agents” accused, under diplomatic cover, of carrying out activities threatening the interests from Oslo.

Russia and Norway, which have long maintained close relations, particularly in the Far North, have seen their relations deteriorate considerably as a result of the conflict in Ukraine.

Although it is not a member of the European Union, Norway has adopted almost all of the sanctions imposed by Brussels on Moscow.