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Photo: Aziz Karimov/Getty Images

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.”

Go deeper: NATO expels 8 alleged spies from Russian mission

Go deeper

Nov 14, 2021 - World

Preview: "Axios on HBO" interviews NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

On the next episode of “Axios on HBO,” national political correspondent Jonathan Swan interviews NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

  • Catch the full interview and much more on Sunday, Nov. 14, at 6pm ET/PT on HBO and HBO Max.
Updated 2 hours ago - Health

The next big bottleneck in the global vaccination effort

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

The world still needs more coronavirus vaccines, but an additional bottleneck has emerged in many low-income countries: They need help getting shots in arms.

Why it matters: Increasing vaccination rates across the world is both a humanitarian necessity and the best way to prevent dangerous new variants from emerging, but it increasingly requires complex problem-solving.

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 Omicron variant cases identified in Europe, U.K.

People wearing masks walk in London on Nov. 25. Photo: Li Ying/Xinhua via Getty Images

Health officials in the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany announced on Saturday that they've detected the first known cases of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The discoveries come as the world scrambles to respond to concerns over the new variant, discovered in South Africa earlier this week.

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