British diplomats face restricted movement in Russia, as Kremlin retaliates for 'hostile actions'

20 July 2023, 17:59

British diplomats in Russia are facing restrictions on movement
British diplomats in Russia are facing restrictions on movement. Picture: Getty/UK government

By Kit Heren

British diplomats in Russia will have to give five days notice before they travel more than 75 miles, as the Kremlin hit back at the UK's "hostile actions".

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The Russian government summoned senior diplomat Tom Dodd to its foreign ministry to tell him about the change on Thursday.

The Kremlin also reprimanded him for Britain's support of what the Kremlin deems Ukraine's "terrorist actions" and for allegedly obstructing Russian diplomacy in the UK.

British diplomats, apart from the ambassador and three other top officials, will now have to give at least five days' notice of travel outside the 75-mile "free movement zone".

The move came after MI6 chief Sir Richard Moore urged Russians angry at president Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine to spy for Britain.

Read more: MI6 chief urges Russians ‘appalled’ by Ukraine war to help ‘end bloodshed’ and 'join us' by spying for UK

Ex-MI6 boss: 'This is the disintegration of Russia'

He told them "our door is always open" and "we will work to bring the bloodshed to an end".

The Foreign Office was considering the implications of Moscow's order.

The Russian foreign ministry said the decision was taken as a "response to the hostile actions of London", including "hindering the normal functioning of Russian foreign missions in the UK".

On the notice required, a statement said: "Such a document should contain information about the timing, purpose, type of trip, planned business contacts, accompanying persons, mode of transport, places of visit and accommodation, as well as the route of the trip."

Sir Richard revealed in a rare public speech on Wednesday that a number of Russians are “silently appalled” by the Russian war on Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin. Picture: Getty

A number of these Russians have already offered their services to MI6 in the last 18 months, he said.

"There are many Russians today who are silently appalled by the sight of their armed forces pulverising Ukrainian cities, expelling innocent families from their homes and kidnapping thousands of children,” Sir Richard said.

"They are watching in horror as their soldiers ravage a kindred country. They know in their hearts that Putin's case for attacking a fellow Slavic nation is fraudulent, a miasma of lies and fantasy."

Speaking from Prague, he suggested Russians must be dealing with "the same tugs of conscience" from the Ukraine war as some Russians did in 1968 when Soviet tanks crushed the Prague Spring.

"I invite them to do what others have already done this past 18 months and join hands with us. Our door is always open," he continued.

He appealed to Russians grappling with these “same dilemmas” and assured them: “We will handle their offers of help with the discretion and professionalism for which my service is famed. Their secrets will always be safe with us.

"And together we will work to bring the bloodshed to an end."

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