- The alleged suspect in the Khangoshvilli murder is a Russian national.
- It is assumed by German lawmakers that the Russian FSB or Chechens are responsible for his murder.
- The expulsion is in line with Vienna Convention Article 9.
Germany expelled two Russian diplomats due to the murder of Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, a 40-year-old who fought against Russia in the Second Chechen War and allegedly had links with Georgian intelligence. Khangoshvili and his family made an asylum claim in Germany in 2016, under their new identities secured in Georgia. His asylum was denied in 2017 and it was under appeal at the time of his murder.
It is assumed by German lawmakers that the Russian FSB or Chechens are responsible for his murder. The alleged suspect in the Khangoshvilli murder is a Russian national. According to German police, Russia refused to aid in the investigation nor provide substantial information in regards to the suspect in this case. During the ongoing investigation high ranking German officials reached out to Russian government officials to assist in this murder investigation and instead were met with silence and blatant disregard to the requests.
The Kremlin immediately responded negatively to the expulsion of two Russian diplomats. Russia considers the move without merit and hostile action. The expulsion was inline with the Vienna Convention of 1961. Article 9 states:
“The receiving State may at any time and without having to explain its decision, notify the sending State that the head of the mission or any member of the diplomatic staff of the mission is persona non grata or that any other member of the staff of the mission is not acceptable. In any such case, the sending State shall, as appropriate, either recall the person concerned or terminate his functions with the mission. A person may be declared non grata or not acceptable before arriving in the territory of the receiving State.”
It is believed the move is purely political, especially with the recent negative German response to Putin’s proposed moratorium on missile deployment. It is plausible to expect Russian President Putin to retaliate with symmetrical countermeasures due to the expulsion.
An official response from Russia claims their intelligence no longer uses such methods and it is pure fantasy by the German government. However, how else can we explain the poisoning of a Bulgarian national in such a similar manner as the Skripals poisoning by Novichok last year?
The scandal could adversely affect an the upcoming December 9 meeting in Paris of the Normandy Contact Group. The Normandy Format talks involve the representatives of the Normandy Four countries who aim to resolve the war in Eastern Ukraine.
German tensions with Russia will now escalate and even though it is common procedure to expel diplomats to send a message, it will cause strained relations with the Kremlin. Retaliation is highly likely.