Russia suspends Nato mission in response to expulsion of its staff

Russia is suspending its mission to Nato in response to last week’s expulsion of eight members of its mission to the military alliance, the country’s foreign minister has said.

Sergei Lavrov said staff at Nato’s mission in Moscow would be stripped of their accreditation from 1 novembre, and that the body could interact with Russia via its embassy in Brussels if needed, Russian news agencies reported.

Nato said the eight Russians expelled last week were secretly working as intelligence officers and halved the size of Moscow’s team able to work at its headquarters. Lavrov also announced that Nato’s military liaison and information offices in Moscow would be closed.

The Russian mission is not based at Nato’s headquarters but in a leafy neighbourhood in the south of the Belgian capital, Brussels.

Nato suspended practical cooperation with Russia in 2014 after it annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, but has kept channels open for high-level meetings and for military-to-military cooperation. But the Nato-Russia council, their preferred forum, has only met sporadically since then.

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