Monday, October 18, 2021
After allegations of espionage
Russia closes its NATO mission
At the beginning of October, NATO withdrew the accreditation of several Russian diplomats. The military alliance accuses them of espionage. Now the reaction from Moscow follows.
Until further notice, Russia is closing its representation at NATO headquarters in Brussels. The work of the NATO information office in Moscow will also be terminated, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. In addition, the NATO military mission in Moscow is not allowed to continue working. Your employees will have their accreditations withdrawn next month. With this measure, Moscow is reacting to the fact that at the beginning of the month NATO had withdrawn accreditation from eight members of the Russian mission to NATO on account of allegations of espionage.
“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. According to him, the closings of the representations will take effect on November 1st or a few days later. “In view of certain measures taken by NATO, the basic requirements for joint work are no longer in place,” Lavrov said.
A good ten days ago, the military alliance withdrew their accreditation from eight Russian diplomats because, as members of the Russian mission to NATO, they were also said to have worked for the secret service. According to NATO, they were “undercover Russian secret service employees”. It was also decided to reduce the maximum size of the Russian mission. Instead of 20, only ten people should be accredited in the future. Moscow then announced countermeasures.
NATO sees increasing hostility
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg had accused Russia of “malicious activities”. However, after the decision he had left open whether the Russian officials at NATO were engaged in classic espionage or were simply not declared as secret service employees. A NATO spokesman had also stated that the decision to withdraw accreditation was based on the intelligence service’s own findings, and that no comments are made on such. According to Stoltenberg, the measure was not related to a specific incident. However, an increase in hostile behavior on the part of Russia had been noted for some time.
At that time there was clear criticism from the Kremlin. The move contradicts the statements of NATO representatives about a desired improvement in relations, said Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov. “Of course, these actions do not allow us to have any illusions about a possible normalization of relations and a resumption of the dialogue with NATO.”
Accreditation withdrawn after a poison attack
The military alliance had already withdrawn accreditation from seven members of the Russian mission in 2018. The move came as a reaction to the poison attack on the Russian ex-double agent Sergei Skripal in Great Britain, for which the West blamed Russia.
The incident is further evidence of the deterioration in relations between Western countries and Russia. From the point of view of observers, they have almost sunk back to the level of the Cold War, when the West and the then Soviet Union pursued a confrontational policy. Russia accuses NATO of expanding its influence towards Russian borders. NATO, on the other hand, declares that it is strengthening eastern member states against the background of the annexation of the Ukrainian Crimea by Russia.