From November, Russia will suspend all activities of its own mission to NATO, both in Moscow and Brussels. The measure follows the removal of eight members of the Russian delegation from Brussels by NATO at the beginning of October.
The NATO missions full staff has to leave Moscow; their accreditation will be withdrawn, Foreign Minister Lavrov announced. In addition, the mission in the Belgian capital and the communications centre in Moscow will also be closed.
For the First Time
If the military alliance wants to have contact with Russia, Lavrov says that will have to go through the embassy in Brussels. “It is the first time that contacts have been stopped in this way,” says correspondent Geert Groot Koerkamp. “This means that communication between the two parties will be kept to a minimum from now on.”
Russia is not part of NATO, but it does, for example, keep in touch about military exercises through the mission. In short, it is an observation mission and communication channel. In Moscow, the mission is based at the Belgian Embassy. In Brussels, too, the Russians had a permanent representation since the 1990s. Both offices will be closed for the time being.
Lick by piece
When the accreditation of eight Russian employees was withdrawn last week, Russia had already said it would respond proportionately. “So this is lick on piece,” Koerkamp says. The eight Russians sent away were “unannounced intelligence officials” according to NATO. It has not been disclosed if the group actually spied.