Russia will respond to NATO’s decision to revoke the accreditation of eight Russian diplomats at the NATO mission in Brussels, country’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova warned on Thursday.
Zakharova said at a news conference in Moscow that the step was expected, but the coalition's disregard for rules of decency startled her, as the alliance provided no explanations or reasons for expelling Russian diplomats.
NATO closed two vacant places and canceled the accreditation of eight members of the Russian mission on Wednesday, claiming that they were "undeclared Russian intelligence officers.”
A NATO official said the alliance has reduced the number of positions Russia can accredit from 20 to 10, while declaring "openness for a meaningful dialogue."
“The unwillingness of NATO and NATO members to cooperate has become completely and irrevocably obvious. We will proceed from this when working out the response measures, and they will follow,” she vowed.
Zakharova accused the NATO secretariat of hypocrisy, asserting that “just recently” it asked to appoint a Russian permanent representative to Brussels, “not to limit contacts by the level of charge d'affairs.”
“This is plain hypocrisy… on the one hand, to declare the need for cooperation, to call for such cooperation, on the other hand, to inform about the reduction in the number of our permanent mission. And, on the third side, to engage in twisting facts and direct disinformation, while not officially naming to the Russian side the reasons for such activities and steps,” she said.
NATO-Russia relations have been strained in recent years, particularly after Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the alleged poisoning of country's opposition leader Alexey Navalny last year.
Earlier in 2018, NATO had canceled the accreditation of seven Russian officials on charges of poisoning former Russian spy Sergei Skripal./agencies