NATO expels eight ‘intelligence officers’ from Russian mission to alliance


BRUSSELS, Oct 6 (Reuters) – NATO has expelled eight members of Russia’s mission to the alliance who had been “undeclared Russian intelligence officers”, a NATO official stated on Wednesday, the newest deterioration in East-West ties which are already at post-Cold War lows.

The expulsion of the Russians was reported earlier by Sky News, which stated Moscow’s mission to the alliance headquarters in Brussels could be halved “in response to suspected malign Russian activities, including killings and espionage”.

Reuters was not instantly capable of affirm the explanations cited by Sky News for the discount of the Russian delegation.

There was no speedy remark from the Kremlin or the Russian overseas ministry.

The West’s ties with Russia stay strained over every part from Ukraine to alleged Russian election meddling to the 2018 poisoning with a nerve agent in England of Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter.

The Interfax information company cited Leonid Slutsky, head of the Russian decrease home of parliament’s worldwide affairs committee, as saying that Moscow would retaliate, however not essentially in form.

“We can confirm that we have withdrawn the accreditation of eight members of the Russian Mission to NATO, who were undeclared Russian intelligence officers,” the NATO official stated, including that the variety of positions Moscow can accredit to NATO had been reduce to 10.

“NATO’s policy towards Russia remains consistent. We have strengthened our deterrence and defence in response to Russia’s aggressive actions, while at the same time we remain open for a meaningful dialogue,” the official added.

Slutsky was cited as saying that the place of Russia’s envoy to the European Union was presently vacant and that NATO’s transfer would injury dialogue between Moscow and the West.

“The collective West is continuing its policy of diplomatic confrontation with Russia,” stated Slutsky.

Russia accuses NATO of provocatively increasing its army infrastructure nearer to its borders. The alliance says it’s decided to strengthen the safety of member states near Russia within the wake of Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea and backing for separatists in jap Ukraine.

Reporting by Robin Emmott and Andrey Ostroukh
Writing by John Chalmers/Andrew Osborn; enhancing by John Stonestreet, William Maclean

Banners displaying the NATO logo are placed at the entrance of new NATO headquarters during the move to the new building, in Brussels, Belgium April 19, 2018.  REUTERS/Yves Herman