NATO has expelled eight members of Russia’s mission from the coalition who were “undeclared Russian intelligence officers,” a NATO official said on Wednesday, the latest deterioration in east-west ties that are already in a post-Cold War era. are at a lower level.
The expulsion of the Russians was previously reported by Sky News, which said Moscow’s mission to the coalition headquarters in Brussels would be halved “in response to suspected malicious Russian activities, including assassinations and espionage”.
Reuters was not immediately able to confirm the reasons for the lack of a Russian delegation by Sky News.
There was no immediate comment from the Kremlin or the Russian Foreign Ministry.
The West’s relations with Russia are strained over everything from Ukraine to the alleged Russian election poisoning of Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter with a nerve agent in 2018.
The Interfax news agency quoted Leonid Slutsky, the head of the Russian lower house of parliament’s international affairs committee, as saying Moscow would retaliate, but not necessarily in kind.
“We can confirm that we have withdrawn the recognition of eight members of the Russian mission to NATO who were undisclosed Russian intelligence officers,” the NATO official said, reducing the number of positions recognized by Moscow for NATO to 10. has given.
“NATO’s policy towards Russia remains consistent. We have strengthened our defense and defense in response to aggressive Russian actions, and we are open to a fruitful dialogue,” the official said.
Slutsky was quoted as saying that the post of Russia’s envoy to the European Union was currently vacant and that the NATO move would harm dialogue between Moscow and the West.
“The Collective West continues its policy of diplomatic confrontation with Russia,” Slutsky said.
Russia has accused NATO of expanding its military infrastructure closer to its borders. The coalition says it is determined to strengthen the security of member states close to Russia in the wake of Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea and support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.