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Norway sends home non-essential staff from Moscow embassy

Norway has told all the non-essential staff of its embassy in Moscow to leave the Russian capital that is plagued by smog from massive forest fires, a foreign ministry spokesman said Wednesday.

“We have told all non critical personnel to leave Moscow. We only have kept critical persons there to uphold the diplomatic presence and the most important work,” Kjetil Elsebutangen told AFP.

“The embassy is not closed, but we have reduced the number of people working there to a minimum,” he added.

There are normally about 60 people — both Norwegian diplomats and local Russian employees — working at the embassy, Elsebutangen said, and there are now five Norwegian diplomats and minimal amount of local staff still othere.

Smog from the peat and forest fires burning in the countryside around 100 kilometers (60 miles) outside the city has choked Moscow for days and has been seeping into apartments, offices and even underground into the metro.