Eight members of the Russian delegation must leave NATO. According to the military alliance, it is Russian intelligence officers, about whom nothing else has been put out. “The decision to withdraw accreditation is based on our own intelligence. We have no further comment on that,” says a spokesperson. Its unclear if the eight actually spied.
It has also been decided to cut the maximum size of the NATO delegation in half. Instead of 20 diplomats, as of the end of this month, only ten Russian diplomats can be accredited for access to NATO. According to the British channel Sky News, it has forced to deal with “malicious and aggressive activities of the Russians”.
A NATO spokesperson says that the alliance remains open to a “meaningful dialogue”. The alliance and the Russians are normally consulted in the NATORussia Council. However, that council hasnt met in 18 months.
Russia: no evidence seen
The Russians disagree with NATOs decision. The chairman of the Foreign Commission of the Russian State Duma, the House of Commons, says he saw no evidence. He expects the Russian Foreign Ministry a “clear answer” to the expulsion of diplomats.
Its not the first time Russians have been sent away from NATO. This happened in 2018 in response to the attack with the nerve agent Novichchoke in Salisbury, in which early Russian double spy Skripal and his daughter Joelia were poisoned. Seven Russians were expelled and the maximum size of the Russian delegation was already reduced, from thirty to twenty.
There has been a bad atmosphere between Russia and the Western alliance for years. NATO accuses Russia of fake news campaigns, cyber attacks and ongoing violations of Ukraines territorial integrity, among others.