NATO Withdraws Accreditation, Russia Responds
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned that there should be no rift in the alliance over the AUKUS dispute between France and the US.
In a conference held at Georgetown University on Tuesday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned that the dispute between Paris and Washington over the AUKUS row must not "cause a rift in the transatlantic alliance," noting that he understands "that France is disappointed."
Today, Stoltenberg commented on the alliance's decision "to withdraw the accreditation of eight members of the Russian delegation to NATO," saying that it was "done based on intelligence because these are undeclared Russian intelligence officers." He also added that they have "seen an increase in Russian malign activities, at least in Europe, and therefore we need to act," according to his statement.
NATO announced Wednesday that it decided to withdraw the accreditation of whom it called "undeclared Russian intelligence officers," and reduce the size of the Russian delegation to 10.
The Interfax news agency cited Leonid Slutsky, head of the Russian Lower House of Parliament’s International Affairs Committee, as saying that Russia would retaliate, but not necessarily in kind.
Zakharova: NATO's decision to expel representatives not unexpected
Russia's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova said that NATO's decision to withdraw the accreditation of eight members of Russia's NATO delegation was not unexpected, but its impudence took the Russians by surprise.
Zakharova added that Russia was officially informed of the decision on October 6, and no official explanation was given as to its underlying reasons.
The Spokesperson also said that Russia's delegation had already been downsized in 2015 and 2018 and that Moscow will come up with retaliatory measures in response.
"The unwillingness of NATO to cooperate has become obvious once and for all. We will proceed from this in working on retaliatory measures, which will follow," she said.