NATO has expelled eight Russian diplomats from the Russian embassy to the Alliance for being alleged spies, allied sources confirmed Wednesday to EFE news agency.
“We can confirm that we have withdrawn the accreditation of eight members of the Russian Mission to NATO, who were undeclared Russian intelligence officers,” the alliance sources said.
They added that NATO has also reduced the total number of diplomats Russia can accredit to the Alliance to ten.
“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,” they stressed.
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NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg acknowledged earlier Tuesday that the transatlantic alliance and Russia’s relations are at “their lowest point since the end of the Cold War,” with Moscow becoming “more aggressive” abroad and more “repressive” domestically.
“I think we must realize that the relationship between the transatlantic family and Russia is at its lowest point since the end of the Cold War,” he told a conference at Georgetown University in Washington.
The NATO secretary general pointed to Russia’s “illegal annexation” of Crimea in 2014 and its “continued destabilization” in eastern Ukraine as a turning point.
“The outlook is serious,” warned Stoltenber, who will chair a previously scheduled meeting in Brussels tomorrow of the North Atlantic Council with allied national security advisers.
At the NATO leaders’ summit in June, the alliance clearly positioned China as a threat to its security, and also bet on launching an adaptation process to improve its response to challenges such as Russia’s aggressiveness and cyberattacks.
In 2018, NATO already expelled seven Russian diplomats in response to the poisoning of former spy Sergey Skripal in Salisbury (southern England.)