The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) decided to expel eight members of the Russian mission on Wednesday, as they were “undeclared Russian intelligence officers,” as the Atlantic Alliance claimed. The Kremlin reacted by saying that these are “baseless” accusations.
Sources allied to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) reported on Wednesday that eight Russian representatives to the Alliance were expelled for being suspected spies.
“We can confirm that we have withdrawn the accreditation of eight members of the Russian mission to NATO, as they were undeclared Russian intelligence officials,” the sources said.
The news network Sky News, quoted by Reuters, reported the news in advance, saying that the Moscow mission at the organization’s headquarters in Brussels would be cut in half “in response to suspicions of malicious activities by Russia, including assassinations and espionage ”.
The relationship between Russia and the countries of the West has deteriorated in recent years due to a series of events that have stressed diplomacy with the Russians, ranging from the annexation of Crimea by Moscow in 2014, the alleged interference in the US elections in 2016 and the poisoning of Russian agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter with a nerve agent in 2018.
For its part, the Russian news agency Interfax quoted Leonid Slutski, head of the international affairs committee of the Russian Lower House of Parliament, as assuring that Moscow would retaliate, although not necessarily in the same way.
Russia, aggressive and repressive
NATO not only expelled the eight members of the Russian mission, but also reduced to ten the total number of diplomats that this country can accredit to the Military Alliance.
Jens Stoltenberg, NATO secretary general, acknowledges that relations between them and Russia are not good. “I think we must realize that the relationship between the transatlantic family and Russia is at its lowest point since the end of the Cold War,” he said during a conference in Washington.
On the other hand, an official of the organization stated that “NATO’s policy towards Russia remains consistent. We have strengthened our deterrence and defense in response to aggressive actions by Russia, while at the same time remaining open to meaningful dialogue, ”he said.
The Kremlin’s response was not immediate to the NATO announcement, but hours later, when Leonid Slutski, head of the Duma’s international affairs committee, said that Russia will respond in the best way. “I do not doubt that the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry will propose adequate response measures, not necessarily symmetrical.”
Slutski accused what he called “the collective West” of maintaining confrontation and “diplomatic antagonism” with Russia, so the dialogue between Moscow and Brussels will be affected.
Moscow also accuses the Atlantic Alliance of expanding its military infrastructure ever closer to its borders. But, NATO responds to this by ensuring that it wants to strengthen the security of member states close to Russia after the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
With EFE and Reuters