Several hundred German civil servants, including diplomats, school teachers and Goethe-Institut staff, are expected to leave Russia shortly, following a request by Moscow, German media reported on Saturday.
The Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper first reported on the matter. It said that the Kremlin decided in April to introduce a cap on the number of staff at Germany's missions and intermediary organizations in the country.
The move follows Berlin's decision to expel a number of Russian intelligence officers.
Departures to happen next month
"This limit, set by Russia from the beginning of June, requires a major cut in all areas of our presence in Russia," Germany's Foreign Ministry said on Saturday, confirming earlier media reports.
"This is a unilateral, unjustified and incomprehensible decision," the ministry added.
The ministry did not specify the exact number of staff affected.
The expulsions show the effect on ties between Moscow and Berlin caused by the war in Ukraine.
When Russia invaded Ukraine February last year, Germany cut its reliance on Russian gas imports, backed international sanctions on Moscow and expelled dozen of Russian diplomats who Berlin believed to represent a threat to its security.
The earlier cuts to Russian diplomatic staff spurred a tit-for-tat response from Moscow which booted out some 20 German embassy staff.
Embassy staff cut to bone
The expulsions mean the representations have already been severely thinned out and services for German citizens have been reduced or are associated with longer waiting times.
Last October, the head of Germany's cybersecurity agency, Arne Schönbohm, was fired after news reports revealed his proximity to a cybersecurity consultancy believed to have contacts with Russian intelligence services.
A month later, a German reserve officer was handed a suspended prison sentence of a year and nine months for spying for Russia.
mm/fb (AFP, dpa)