Commenting on the expulsion of members of the Russian delegation NATO demanded on Wednesday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko stressed that the Alliance shows with its latest decision the real value of its statements about the importance of de-escalating relations with Moscow, according to Kommersant daily.
The high-ranking diplomat responsible, among other things, for the relations between Russia and the North Atlantic Alliance, pointed that whoever believed in the sincerity of NATO leaders’ calls for resumption of the dialogue with Russia and for Moscow to send ambassador to Brussels will now be stunned.
To add insult to injury, the Alliance did not warn Moscow in advance about the move it planned to undertake.
Grushko said that by expelling eight Russian diplomats from Brussels, NATO, showed everyone their true price, adding ironically that its’s impossible to live without the ‘Russian threat’ bogey after the Afghan epic’s impressive ending.
The chairman of the 7th Duma’s international affairs committee, Leonid Slutsky, believes that Russia will retaliate to the expulsion of Russian diplomats, explaining that such moves are reciprocal in the diplomatic practice, and that the Russian Foreign Ministry will suggest adequate response measures, but not necessarily symmetrical.
Underscoring that NATO’s accusations are unfounded, he said that the collective West continues a policy towards the diplomatic standoff with Russia that will further decrease the level of cooperation.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg commented for the first time on NATO’s decision with regard to the Russian mission, stressing that the expelled officers were ‘undeclared members of the Russian intelligence service’ and that their activities were not in line with their accreditations.
He pointed that the decision wasn’t related to any specific events but due to the increased malicious activity of Russia lately.
In response to Russia’s suspected hostile activities, NATO had decided on Wednesday to halve the Russian permanent mission to the Alliance from 20 to 10 members, by withdrawing the accreditation of eight diplomats and abolishing two vacant positions Later, NATO confirmed the information.
According to British media, Russian diplomats, who were not declared persona non grata as is usually done in cases with spies, are accused of espionage and involvement in murders.
NATO’s decision are allegedly connected to April’s claims by Prague that the fatal explosions at a Czech ammunition depot in 2014 involved two Russian spies, who were allegedly implicated in the poisoning of Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the UK.