Russia is retaliating for the recent expulsion of its diplomats from its NATO mission in Brussels, saying Monday it will suspend its mission to the alliance and ordered NATO’s office in Moscow shuddered.
Earlier in the month, NATO said eight Russians working at its mission in Brussels were intelligence officers and removed their accreditation. NATO also cut the staff at its Moscow office from 20 to 10.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov dismissed the allegations, saying “NATO isn’t interested in any kind of equal dialogue or joint work.
“As a result of NATO’s deliberate moves, we have practically no conditions for elementary diplomatic work. And in response to NATO’s actions, we suspend the work of our permanent mission to NATO, including the work of the chief military envoy, probably from November 1. Or it may take several more days,” he said.
“The alliance’s line towards our country is becoming more and more aggressive,” he added, accusing NATO of overblowing “the Russian threat” to maintain its “relevance.”
Lavrov said issues between Russia and NATO would be handled by the Russian Embassy in Belgium.
NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu said Russia has yet to formally give notice on its actions.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in Luxembourg that Moscow’s move “will further prolong the difficult situation we’re in, this frosty period that’s been going on for some time,” adding that “this will put a further serious strain on relations.”
He called the move “regrettable.”
Relations between NATO and Russia have been particularly strained since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. Since then, both sides have been critical of each other over military exercises near the borders between the two.
Some information in this report comes from The Associated Press and Reuters.