NATO Cuts Russian Mission in Growing Response to UK Attack

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg a?nnouncing cuts in Russia's mission to NATO. Screenshot photo.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg Tuesday announced he had withdrawn the accreditation of seven staff members of Russia’s mission to the organization and will deny the pending accreditation request for three others.

The announcement was part of the growing international response, including the Trump administration’s expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats, to the alleged Russian poisoning of a former Russian spy in Salisbury, England.

“Our actions reflect the serious security concerns expressed by all allies, and are part of the coordinated international effort to respond to Russia’s behavior,” Stoltenberg said, adding, “They are proportionate, and in line with our legal obligations.

He said the “practical implication” of these steps is “that Russia will have a reduced capability to do intelligence work in NATO countries and in those countries they are expelled from.”

Therefore, he said, “this is a clear and very strong message that it has costs and consequences to behave the way Russia has behaved.”

He said the announcement was “part of a broader pattern, a broader response by NATO allies, to a pattern of reckless behavior by Russia.”

He noted that Russia will continue to have a diplomatic mission to NATO, and at 20 diplomats, it “is big enough to facilitate the political dialogue between NATO and Russia.” He said NATO’s approach to Russia remains “based on a dual-track approach, meaning strong deterrence, and defense, and dialogue.”

“This is a response, this is a clear message, but this is not a change of our policy. We will continue to work for meaningful political dialogue with Russia,” he said.