BRUSSELS—The North Atlantic Treaty Organization said Wednesday it was ejecting eight members of the Russian delegation to the alliance, calling them undeclared intelligence officers.
The Russian Foreign Ministry didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the move, which extends a wave of tit-for-tat expulsions between Western countries and Russia in recent years as relations have soured. The U.S. and its allies have expelled scores of Russian diplomats in response to Moscow’s alleged covert operations, including cyberattacks, attempts to influence elections and a failed hit on a former Russian spy in England. Russia has hit back with expulsions of its own, blaming the West for worsening relations.
A NATO official said Wednesday that the alliance had withdrawn accreditation for eight members of the Russian mission and reduced the number of positions there to 10 from 20.
NATO has been at the forefront of efforts to counter Russia since Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and launched a covert invasion of that country’s east. The alliance created four new multinational units totaling some 5,000 service members in the Baltic countries and Poland.
NATO had reduced the Russian mission’s size to 20 in 2018 after the U.K. said Russian intelligence officers had attempted to kill a former Russian spy in the English town of Salisbury with a nerve agent.
“NATO’s policy towards Russia remains consistent. We have strengthened our deterrence and defense in response to Russia’s aggressive actions, while at the same time we remain open for a meaningful dialogue,” the NATO official said.
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