No illusions over NATO ties after expulsions: Kremlin

AFP News Agency

07th Oct, 2021. 03:18 pm
Russian President

Russian President

MOSCOW: The Kremlin said on Thursday that NATO’s decision to strip eight members of the Russian mission to the alliance of their accreditation shows its members have no desire to normalise relations with Moscow.

NATO on Wednesday barred eight members of the Russian mission, calling them “undeclared Russian intelligence officers,” meaning spies.

The military bloc also halved the number of positions which Russia can accredit to the alliance to 10.

“There is an obvious contradiction in the statements of NATO representatives about the desire to normalise relations with our country and in real actions,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

“These actions allow us not to develop illusions about the normalisation of relations.”

The decision on reducing the Russian mission will take effect at the end of the month and is understood to have been approved by all 30 NATO member countries.

Russia is not a member of NATO, but has long had an observer mission to the Washington-led alliance as part of a two-decade-old NATO-Russia Council meant to promote cooperation in common security areas.

The Russian mission has been downsized once before, when seven of its members were kicked out after the 2018 poisoning with the Soviet-designed Novichok nerve agent of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain.

The NATO-Russia Council has been largely non-functioning since Moscow’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

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