Russia suspends NATO mission after expulsion of its personnel

Russia suspends NATO mission after expulsion of its personnel

Russia will suspend the activities of its diplomatic mission to NATO and close the alliance’s offices in Moscow in response to its consecutive expulsion of eight Russians for espionage.
The measures, announced on Monday by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, are expected to take Moscow’s relationship with the transatlantic security body to new depths when they come into effect early next month.

“Following some measures taken by NATO, the basic conditions for a common work no longer exist,” Lavrov told reporters in Moscow.

“In response to NATO activities, we are suspending the work of our permanent mission to NATO, including the work of the Chief Military Representative, from November 1, or maybe it will take a few more days, ”he said.

Lavrov also announced that NATO’s military liaison and information offices in Moscow would be closed, adding that the accreditations would be recalled in early November.

He said contact between the Western alliance and Moscow could be made through Russia’s embassy in Belgium.

NATO said it took note of Lavrov’s comments but received no official communication on the issues raised.

Spy line

Earlier this month, NATO expelled eight members of the Russian mission to the alliance who it said were “undeclared Russian intelligence officers” – that is, spies. He also halved the number of positions Russia can accredit in the alliance to 10.

Moscow said at the time that the expulsions undermined hopes for normalization of relations with the US-led alliance.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the deportations were unrelated to a particular event, but claimed the activities of the eight people were not in line with their credentials.

He said NATO needed to be vigilant in the face of “malicious” Russian activities and described relations with Moscow as their lowest since the end of the Cold War.

Stoltenberg cited Russia’s military build-up along the Ukrainian border and what he called violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty as evidence of “aggressive actions”.

Years of tension

Russia is not a member of NATO, but has a long-standing observer mission to the alliance as part of a two-decade NATO-Russia Council designed to promote cooperation in security fields common.

However, the council has been largely inoperative since Moscow’s annexation of Crimea to Ukraine in 2014.

Since then, Russia has repeatedly accused NATO of provocatively expanding its military infrastructure closer to its borders.

The alliance, for its part, has declared its determination to strengthen the security of member states close to Russia following the annexation of Crimea. but kept channels open for high-level meetings and for military-to-military cooperation.

Formal talks between the two sides have been limited in recent years.


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