Moscow to respond to NATO’s expulsion of Russian diplomats

Moscow will respond to a NATO decision to expel several Russian diplomats from Brussels, the Kremlin warns. NATO has announced that it was cutting the number of Russian Mission staff in Brussels from 20 to 10 people.

Moscow will formulate and implement response measures to NATO’s actions against Russia, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday, underscoring that the Alliance is cutting options for a dialogue.

“Undoubtedly, some response measures will be formulated in a way that would comply with our interests the most, and they will be implemented,” the spokesman underlined, adding, “A cooperation [between Russia and NATO] is out of discussion, because there is no cooperation, essentially.”

“Our NATO counterparties narrow the options for a dialogue,” Peskov stated.

On Wednesday, NATO announced its decision to cut the Russian diplomatic mission from 20 people to 10 before the end of October, adding that the diplomatic accreditation of 8 diplomats had been withdrawn.

“NATO is not an instrument of cooperation, not an instrument for interaction; it is a bloc that overall is anti-Russian in nature,” the spokesman said, adding that “this is how we see it, and this perception is clearly evidenced by this bloc’s actions”.

Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a briefing on Thursday Moscow will prepare tit-for-tat measures in response to NATO’s decision to strip eight staffers of the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to NATO of their accreditation.

“The unwillingness of NATO to cooperate has become obvious once and for all. We will proceed from this in working on retaliatory measures, which will follow,” the diplomat noted.

The NATO decision to expel eight Russian diplomats from Brussels was not caused by any specific event, but rather by Russia’s activity in general and the Alliance’s intelligence information, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said during a press conference on Thursday.

“This decision is not linked to any particular event, but we have seen over some time now, an increase in Russian malign activity, and therefore we need to be vigilant, and we need to act when we see that members of the Russian delegation to NATO conduct activities which are not in line with their [diplomatic] accreditation, and therefore the accreditation is withdrawn,” he added.

The Secretary General stated that this decision was made “based on intelligence”, claiming that the expelled diplomats “were undeclared intelligence officers”.

He noted that the relations between Russia and NATO are at their lowest point since the Cold War, claiming that the responsibility for this lies with Russia. However, he said that the Alliance is open to a dialogue with Russia, including holding the Russia-NATO Council meeting.

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