NATO withdrew its recognition from Russian ambassadors in early October after they allegedly worked for the secret service. Moscow was angry – now reacting with a clear move.
In the wake of the controversy over the cancellation of accreditation for Russian ambassadors, Moscow will suspend the work of its permanent representation to NATO in Brussels from early November. The Russian Foreign Ministry announced on Monday. The NATO Information Office and the NATO military mission in Moscow will be suspended accordingly. “NATO is not interested in equal dialogue or cooperation,” said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Federal Foreign Minister Haiko Mass dismissed the allegations during an EU meeting in Luxembourg and recalled plans that had been on the table for months to convene a new meeting of the NATO-Russia Council. The SPD politician said Moscow’s decision would further prolong the ice age. “It’s going to put a lot of pressure on the relationship.”
The Western military alliance was taken by surprise by Russia’s decision. NATO spokeswoman Ona Lungesku said: “We have taken note of Minister Lavrov’s statements to the media, but we have not received any official information on the issues raised. I apologize for these actions. Lavrov had previously said that the coalition had been notified of the Russian steps.
A good ten days ago, NATO withdrew its recognition from eight members of the Russian mission. It was also decided to reduce the maximum size of the Russian workforce to ten. Reason: Diplomats are also said to have worked for the Secret Service. It was stated from Moscow that the representation in Brussels could not continue to work under the given conditions.
In case of emergency, NATO may return to the Russian ambassador to Belgium, the Russian Foreign Ministry said. In return, the ambassador of the NATO member country in Moscow will be able to determine who will be the person to contact on the Russian side in the future. Until recently, three representatives of international military personnel were in Moscow for NATO. In addition, the Office of Military Communications and Information has a limited number of civilian employees.
NATO has already issued sanctions against the Russian delegation in Brussels in 2018: In response to the nerve agent attack in Salisbury, UK, seven Russian employees were expelled and the maximum number of Russian delegates was reduced from 30 to 20.
In the aftermath of the recent operations, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has opened up about whether Russian officials were involved in classic espionage or simply being declared secret service personnel. It said the decision to withdraw the recognition was based on intelligence ‘own findings and that they had not commented on it. Even then, there was clear criticism from the Kremlin.
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