NATO expels eight “intelligence officers” from Russian mission to alliance

Banners displaying the NATO logo are placed at the entrance to the new NATO headquarters as it moves to the new building in Brussels, Belgium on April 19, 2018. REUTERS / Yves Herman

BRUSSELS / MOSCOW, October 6 (Reuters) – NATO expelled eight members of the Russian mission to the alliance who were “undeclared Russian intelligence officers,” a NATO official said on Wednesday, the latest deterioration of East-West relations which are already in place – The downs of the Cold War.

The expulsion of the Russians was reported earlier by Sky News, which said Moscow’s mission to the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels would be halved “in response to alleged malicious Russian activities, including killings and l ‘spying”.

Reuters was unable to immediately confirm the reasons given by Sky News for the reduction of the Russian delegation.

There was no immediate comment from the Kremlin.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko accused NATO of duplicity and of using the idea of ​​an alleged threat from Moscow as a bogeyman for his own ends.

“NATO leaders spoke yesterday of the importance of de-escalating relations with Russia and called for a resumption of dialogue within the framework of the Russia-NATO Council,” Grushko told the Kommersant daily.

“If anyone believed in the sincerity of these statements, then today they are not. Their true value is clear to all. After the dramatic end of the Afghan era, how can they be. of the scarecrow of the “Russian threat.” They can’t. “

The West’s ties with Russia remain strained on everything from Ukraine to alleged interference in Russian elections to the 2018 nerve poisoning in England of Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his girl.

The Interfax news agency quoted Leonid Slutsky, head of the international affairs committee of the lower house of the Russian parliament, as saying that Moscow would retaliate, but not necessarily in kind.

“We can confirm that we have withdrawn the accreditation of eight members of the Russian mission to NATO, who were undeclared Russian intelligence officers,” the NATO official said, adding that the number of positions that Moscow can accredit to NATO had been reduced to 10.

“NATO’s policy towards Russia remains consistent. We have stepped up our deterrence and defense in response to aggressive Russian actions, while remaining open to constructive dialogue,” the official added.

Slutsky reportedly said the post of Russia’s envoy to the European Union is currently vacant and that NATO’s move will damage dialogue between Moscow and the West.

“The collective West continues its policy of diplomatic confrontation with Russia,” Slutsky said.

Russia accuses NATO of provocatively expanding its military infrastructure closer to its borders. The alliance says it is determined to strengthen the security of member states close to Russia following Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Ukrainian Crimea and support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Reporting by Robin Emmott and Andrey Ostroukh Writing by John Chalmers / Andrew Osborn; edited by John Stonestreet, William Maclean and Grant McCool

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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