Home World Russia cuts ties with NATO, with spy affairs as backdrop

Russia cuts ties with NATO, with spy affairs as backdrop

Russia announced on Monday the suspension of its mission to NATO and that of the Atlantic Alliance in Moscow, after the withdrawal on October 6 of the accreditations of eight Russian representatives to the organization, accused of espionage.

This decision further illustrates the strong tensions that have faced Russia with Western countries for several years, between sanctions, cross expulsions of diplomats, accusations of electoral interference, espionage and cyberattacks attributed to Moscow.

Russia, for its part, reproaches the Atlantic Alliance for its ambition to extend to its borders, integrating Ukraine and Georgia, two former Soviet republics that it still considers part of its sphere of influence.

"After certain measures taken by NATO, the basic conditions for joint work do not exist"Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday, specifying that the measures will come into effect on November 1.

Specifically, Russia will indefinitely suspend its mission in Brussels within the Western military alliance, as well as the NATO mission in the Belgian embassy in Moscow. Its role is to guarantee the relationship between the alliance in Brussels and the Russian Defense Ministry.

Lavrov also announced "end the activity of the NATO information office", whose mission, as defined by the alliance, is "improve mutual understanding and understanding".

Since 2014, with the annexation of the Crimean peninsula by Russia, "NATO has already significantly reduced contacts with our mission. Regarding the military side, there has been no contact since then.", justified the head of Russian diplomacy.

"The attitude of the Alliance towards our country has become increasingly aggressive", denounced Russia.

NATO indicated for its part that "has taken note of Minister Lavrov’s statements to the media". "We have no official communication on the matter you have raised"said a spokeswoman for the Alliance, Oana Lungescu.

– "Malevolent activities" –

In case of "urgency", the Alliance may in the future contact the Russian ambassador in Belgium, added Lavrov.

These measures follow a new series of accusations of espionage.

In early October, NATO announced that it was withdrawing the accreditation of eight members of the Russian mission in Brussels accused of being "undeclared Russian intelligence agents".

Alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on the occasion accused Moscow of increasing its "malevolent activities" in Europe.

Russia had issued a warning when considering that the political-military alliance, founded in 1949 by the rivals of the Soviet Union, has already demonstrated its refusal to normalize its relations.

In March 2018, the military alliance already decided to withdraw the credentials of seven members of the Russian mission and expel them from Belgium, following the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a former Russian double agent, and his daughter Iulia in the United Kingdom.

Subsequently, the number of accreditations for the Russian mission in Brussels was reduced from 30 to 20. And, on October 7, 2021 even more to 10.

Despite strong tensions, since 2014 the Russian military high command has met several times in third countries with military leaders from NATO and the Pentagon.

In February 2020, Russian Chief of Staff Valeri Guerasimov met in Azerbaijan with NATO’s Supreme Commander for Europe, US General Tod Wolters.

In September 2021, Guerasimov had a meeting in Helsinki with his American counterpart, Mark Milley, in Helsinki, after having had a previous interview in December 2019.

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