Russia suspends mission to NATO over alleged spy expulsions
Russia announced Monday it will suspend the activities of its mission to NATO and strip NATO staff working in Moscow of their accreditation, in response to the Western alliance's expulsion of eight "undeclared Russian intelligence officers" earlier this month.
Why it matters: The latest escalation means there will no longer be any high-level military-to-military communication between the two sides.
The big picture: Cooperation between Moscow and NATO has been virtually non-existent in the wake of Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014.
- "If NATO members have any urgent matters, they can turn to our ambassador to Belgium on these issues, who ensures bilateral relations between Russia and the Kingdom of Belgium," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
- NATO did not explain its decision to reduce the size of the Russian mission, according to Lavrov. However, new details about the extent of Russia's covert intelligence activities in Europe, which the Kremlin denies, could have played a role.
What they're saying: "We have taken note of Minister Lavrov’s comments to the media," NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu said in a statement. "However, we have not received any official communication on the issues he raised.”