MINSK, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- Belarus would withdraw its embassy staff from Sweden in response to the Scandinavian country's expulsion of Belarusian diplomats, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement Wednesday.
"The Swedish Foreign Ministry has chosen to aggravate relations between the two countries and made a decision to expel two senior diplomats from the Belarusian embassy, ...and to refuse the entry of a new Belarusian ambassador to Sweden," the statement said.
Thus, the Belarusian embassy staff in Stockholm would be reduced to two diplomats too junior to run the mission, it said.
"According to these facts, Belarus had to make a decision to recall its embassy staff from Sweden. Steps toward this are already being made," the ministry said.
It said the bilateral cooperation and direct diplomatic presence in the two countries were possible only if the Swedish side abided by the internationally recognized principles of mutual respect and equality.
Last week, Belarus decided not to renew the accreditation of the Swedish Ambassador Stephen Eriksson, who has worked here for about seven years.
Earlier, a light Swedish plane flew over Minsk and dropped 879 teddy bears with pro-democracy messages, which analysts believe led to the diplomatic row between the two countries.
Belarus acknowledged the airdrop last week, and President Alexander Lukashenko criticized the military for allowing the plane to enter its airspace and carry out the "provocation."
Two Belarusian generals have been fired due to the incident, and the two countries have rejected each other's ambassadors since then.