A Nato official announced on Wednesday that eight members of Russia’s mission to the alliance have been expelled. The official said that they were secretly working as intelligence officers, further deteriorating East-West ties that are already at post-Cold War lows.
According to the NATO official the eight members were undeclared Russian intelligence officers. “We can confirm that we have withdrawn the accreditation of eight members of the Russian Mission to NATO,” the official said. The expelling of these members has halved the size of Moscow’s team able to work at its headquarters.
“NATO’S policy towards Russia remains consistent. We have strengthened our deterrence and defense in response to Russia’s aggressive actions, while at the same time we remain open for a meaningful dialogue,” the official added.
He also stated, “NATO proposed to hold another meeting of the NATO-Russia Council over 18 months ago, and that proposal stands. The Ball is in Russia’s court.”
The Interfax news agency cited Leonid Slutsky, had of the Russian lower house of parliament’s international affairs committee, as saying that Moscow would retaliate, but not necessarily in kind.
Relations between NATO and Russia have been increasingly strained since Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014. The two are at odds over Russia’s nuclear missile development, aerial intrusions into NATO airspace and the buzzing of allied ships by fighter planes.