Russia cuts diplomatic relations with NATOReading Time: < 1 minutes
Russia has announced that it will suspend its NATO mission in Brussels after the western military alliance expelled eight employees for being “undeclared Russian intelligence officers” earlier this month. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov admitted that the move is retaliatory, and his country will also withdraw accreditation of NATO staff at its military liaison in Moscow, effective 1 November.
The tit-for-tat moves mark a new low in post-Cold-War East-West relations. Russia has repeatedly accused NATO of provocative actions near its borders, and recently staged major military exercises of its own. NATO says it is determined to reinforce the security of member states close to Russia following its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and its support of separatists in eastern Ukraine.
“We regret these steps,” NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said, adding that the organisation’s policy towards Russia “remains consistent”. Lungescu added that “we have strengthened our deterrence and defence in response to Russia’s aggressive actions, while at the same time we remain open to dialogue, including through the Nato-Russia council.”
Practical cooperation within the framework of the NATO-Russia Council has been de facto suspended since 2014, however, although a few consultative meetings have taken place in recent years. In 2018 NATO reduced the size of Russia’s mission from 30 to 20, in response to a nerve agent attack in the UK.