Diplomatic tensions are rising over Ukraine between Russia and the Baltic states, where all three have announced they are recalling their ambassadors from Moscow.
They are also expelling Russian ambassadors from their own country.
The Russian ambassador to Latvia says he was told to leave Riga a day before the first anniversary of the invasion.
“We are leaving. Latvia is reducing the level of diplomatic relations between our countries,” Mikhail Vanin said when asked by a journalist. “I have to leave the country before February 23. That’s all.”
Latvia’s move follows similar announcements from Lithuania and Estonia regarding Russian aggression in Ukraine.
Moscow accuses Estonian leaders of being Russophobic and has asked the Estonian ambassador to leave Russia by February 7.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met his counterpart in Pretoria, South Africa.
The visit has drawn criticism in light of events in Ukraine, but South Africa insists it remains neutral on the conflict.
The country’s main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, accuses the ruling African National Congress of sliding towards support for Russia, however, South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor has called to a diplomatic solution to the conflict:
“We have continued and will continue to urge that there be a diplomatic solution and process to this current conflict because we view war as terrible, we view war as a negative for development and for global security, we will therefore continue to ask for this and we will reiterate our view that the concerns of both nations must be taken into account in this diplomatic process.
South Africa recently assumed the presidency of BRICS, a grouping that also includes Brazil, Russia, India and China to challenge the American and European dominant global governance structures.
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