Russia suspends its diplomatic relations with NATO

Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia. / E. P.

Moscow responds in this way to the expulsion by the Alliance of eight Russian diplomats accused of espionage

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced on Monday the suspension of the activity of Russia’s diplomatic representation to NATO in Brussels and that of the Alliance’s diplomatic mission in Moscow, starting on November 1. It is Moscow’s response to NATO’s expulsion of eight Russian diplomats on October 6, Lavrov said.

“After certain decisions taken by NATO, the basic conditions for joint work are not in place,” said the head of Russian Diplomacy. According to his statements, “we suspend the activity of our permanent mission, including that carried out by the main military representative”.

The Alliance expelled eight Russian diplomats on June 6 for alleged links “with hostile activities” of espionage and even with alleged assassination attempts. These eight people were advised that they will have to leave Brussels before the end of October. In Brussels, they also decided to abolish two posts in the Russian representation, reducing the legation, which had 20 members, to 10.

These measures were harshly criticized in Moscow. The Deputy Foreign Minister, Alexander Grushko, said that “the leaders of the Alliance spoke of the need to ease tensions in relations with Russia and asked to resume the dialogue within the framework of the Russia-NATO Council and send the ambassador to Brussels. If there were people who believed that these statements were sincere, today there are none.

Grushkó was referring to the words of the President of the Federation Council, the Upper House of the Russian Parliament, Grigori Karasin, who, upon his return from New York after attending the 76 session of the United Nations General Assembly, assured that the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, defended the need to resume the dialogue between both parties.

Previous precedent

Already in March 2018, NATO deported seven Russian diplomats and withdrew the accreditation of another three, reducing the number of members of the Russian representation from 30 to 20. It was the answer to the poisoning of the former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Julia in the British city of Salisbury.

Lavrov explained on Monday that, in case of emergency, contacts with the Alliance from now on will be made through the Russian ambassador to Belgium. The expert on military issues, Alexander Golts, told the Echo of Moscow radio station that Russia’s decision to suspend the work of the NATO military mission in Moscow “contains the danger that the country will lose the ability to respond immediately to any possible response. emergency”.

In his words, “the closure of the NATO military mission means that information about its activities, which include military operations, deployment of forces and maneuvers, will now not be carried out directly between the Russian Defense Ministry and the military office. of the Alliance, but indirectly through the embassy of Belgium in Russia and of Russia in Belgium.

But Golts believes that “this is bad because the most frequent military exercises are plagued with all kinds of incidents, and in these cases the speed with which the departments concerned communicate with each other is very important.” “Now Russia has reduced that speed with all the consequences that this may entail,” added the expert. Of course, Golts believes that the one who started the escalation “was NATO itself, which halved the Russian mission in Brussels, something that, from what we can see, turned out to be an insult that was unacceptable for Russia.”

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