NATO's decision to expel eight officers of the Russian mission was not related to any specific event, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said, Reuters reports.
“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,” Stoltenberg told reporters.
“The relationship between NATO and Russia is at its lowest point since the end of the Cold War. That’s because of the Russian behavior. We have seen their aggressive actions, not least against Ukraine, but also the significant military buildup and violations of important arms control agreements,” he added.
On October 6, NATO decided to expel eight members of the Russian mission to the alliance and abolish the posts of two other officials. NATO representatives explained that the decision was made in response to Russia's hostile activities in member-countries of the bloc. As a result, Russia's permanent mission to NATO will be halved from 20 to 10 people.
The Russian Foreign Ministry, commenting on the expulsion, recalled that NATO had earlier declared the importance to de-escalate relations with Russia and called for a resumption of dialogue with Moscow. After NATO's latest anti-Russian move, no one believes in the sincerity of those words, Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said. According to him, NATO decided to expel Russian diplomats because the alliance could not do without the bogeyman of the Russian threat after the epic failure in Afghanistan.
The Kremlin also noted that there was obvious contradiction between NATO's statements and actions. Moscow has no illusions left about a possibility to normalise relations and resume dialogue with NATO, Putin's official spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
“They undermine these prospects completely,” Peskov said.