Russia suspends mission to NATO over spying row

Russia suspends mission to NATO over spying row, says foreign minister
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Russia decided to shut down its mission to NATO after the Western military alliance expelled eight Russians believed to be 'undeclared Russian intelligence officers'.
Russian FM Sergei Lavrov said that staff at NATO's military mission in Moscow would be stripped of their accreditation [source: Getty]

Russia said on Monday it would halt the activities of its diplomatic mission to NATO after the Western military alliance expelled eight Russians in a row over spying.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that in return, staff at NATO's military mission in Moscow would be stripped of their accreditation from November 1 and that the alliance's information office in the Russian capital would be shuttered.

"If NATO members have any urgent matters, they can contact our ambassador in Belgium on these questions," Lavrov told a news conference.

NATO said on October 6 it had expelled eight members of Russia's mission to the alliance who it said were "undeclared Russian intelligence officers".

Moscow said at the time that the expulsions undermined hopes that relations with the US-led alliance could normalise.

"NATO is not interested in equitable dialogue and joint work," Lavrov said on Monday, announcing the closure of the Russian mission. "If that's the case, then we don't see the need to keep pretending that changes in the foreseeable future are possible."

The dispute marks the latest deterioration in East-West ties that are already at post-Cold War lows

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Russia accuses NATO of provocative activity close to its borders, and recently staged major exercises of its own.

The alliance says it is determined to reinforce the security of member states close to Russia following Moscow's annexation of the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 and backing for separatists in eastern Ukraine.