NATO chief says Russia expulsions not linked to specific event

FILE PHOTO: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg holds an online news conference after a NATO Foreign Ministers video meeting following developments in Afghanistan, at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium August 20, 2021. Francisco Seco/Pool via REUTERS

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The expulsion of eight members of Russia's mission to NATO is not linked to a particular event, but the alliance needs to be vigilant in the face of "malign" Russian activity, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday.

Stoltenberg said the eight, whose expulsion was announced on Wednesday, were "undeclared Russian intelligence officers".

"This decision is not linked to any particular event, but we have seen over some time now, an increase in Russian malign activity, and therefore we need to be vigilant," he told a news conference.

The activities of the eight were not in line with their accreditations, Stoltenberg said, also describing relations with Russia as at their lowest point since the end of the Cold War.

"That's because of the Russian behaviour. We have seen their aggressive actions," he said, pointing to Russia's military build-up along Ukraine's border and what he said were violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

Stoltenberg said NATO would continue its "dual-track" approach towards Russia of defence and dialogue.

"We are ready also to convene a NATO-Russia council meeting. We have actually invited Russia for now a long time. So far, Russia has not responded positively," he said.

He said he had failed in talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the UN General Assembly last month to agree on a new meeting of the council, which he said was especially important to convene given current high tensions.

The Kremlin said earlier on Thursday that the expulsions almost completely undermined its hopes that relations could be normalised and dialogue with NATO resumed.

On Wednesday, a pro-Kremlin lawmaker said Moscow would retaliate, though not necessarily in kind.

(Reporting by Benoit Van Overstraeten and Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Alex Richardson and John Stonestreet)

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 46
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3
Join our Telegram channel to get our Evening Alerts and breaking news highlights

Next In World

France, Europeans working to open joint mission in Afghanistan - Macron
Gambians cast votes with marbles in key test for stability
In Khashoggi's shadow, Macron set for Saudi talks with crown prince
Australia Omicron variant spreads, testing reopening plans
Donors eye Dec. 10 decision on shifting frozen funds for Afghanistan
S.Korea reports record-high COVID-19 cases, deaths
U.S., Russia make progress toward resolving diplomats spat -State Dept
Brazilian Supreme Court orders probe into Bolsonaro for linking COVID-19 vaccines to AIDS
France evacuates more than 300 people from Afghanistan
Uganda says troops to stay in Congo as long as needed to defeat ADF

Others Also Read