Russia suspends work of its NATO office after credentials withdrawn

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Nato
Nato

In response to the revoked accreditation for Russian diplomats, Russia will suspend the work of its permanent representation to NATO in Brussels from the beginning of November, according to Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

In addition, the NATO military mission in Moscow will not be allowed to continue its work, Lavrov said at a press conference on Monday, according to the Interfax agency. As of November 1, its staff will have their accreditations withdrawn, he said.

“NATO is neither interested in an equal dialogue nor in cooperation,” Lavrov said. In urgent cases, the military alliance could turn to the Russian ambassador in Belgium, he added.

NATO announced on October 6 it had withdrawn the accreditation of eight Russian diplomats in Brussels because they were undeclared intelligence officers.

NATO also said at the time that the maximum staff levels of Moscow’s NATO delegation would be halved from 20 to 10. Moscow then announced countermeasures.

After the decision, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg left open whether the Russian officials were engaged in classic espionage at NATO or were merely not declared as intelligence service employees.

A NATO spokesperson explained that the decision to withdraw accreditation was based on the secret service’s own intelligence findings, and that the secret service does not comment on such findings.

The Kremlin was clearly critical at the time. The step contradicted the statements by NATO representatives about a desired improvement in relations, said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

“These actions, of course, do not allow us to have any illusions about a possible normalization of relations and a resumption of dialogue with NATO.”

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