Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday that Moscow was suspending its mission to NATO and closing the Western military bloc’s liaison mission in Russia, in a new diplomatic row.
“We are suspending the work of our official mission to NATO, including the work of our military representative from November 1 or it could take a few more days,” Lavrov told reporters, AFP reports.
Lavrov said that Russia would also be ending the alliance’s liaison mission — established in 2002 and hosted at the Belgian embassy — and
information office in Moscow.
The bloc’s information office was established in Moscow in 2001 to improve understanding between NATO and Russia.
The latest row comes after NATO earlier this month stripped accreditations of eight members of the Russian mission to the alliance, describing them as “undeclared Russian intelligence officers”.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at the time that the decision to kick out the Russian representatives was not “linked to any particular event” — but gave no more details over the move.
On Monday, Lavrov cited “recent moves” by NATO, saying there were no longer “basic conditions for common work.”
He said that in case of urgent matters, NATO could liaise via the Russian ambassador in Belgium.
Russia has long had an observer mission to NATO as part of a two-decade-old NATO-Russia Council meant to promote cooperation in common security areas, but it is not a member of the US-led alliance.
The Russian mission has been downsized once before, when seven of its members were ejected after the 2018 poisoning by the Novichok nerve agent on a Russian former double agent, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter in Britain.