Russia moves to suspend its NATO mission, after diplomats expelled

NATO initially suspended practical cooperation with Russia in 2014, following annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula

Updated: October 19, 2021 - 8:51am

Russia has suspended its mission at NATO and ordered the closure of the alliance's Moscow office.

The move was announced Monday, following NATO expelling  Russian diplomats earlier this month.

NATO rescinded the accreditation of eight Russian officials to its Brussels headquarters, saying that it believes the officials have been working as Russian intelligence officers. Moscow has denied the accusations, calling them baseless.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the alliance's action had cemented his country's position that "NATO isn't interested in any kind of equal dialogue or joint work."

He also said, "We don't see any need to keep pretending that there could be any shift in the foreseeable future. ... we have practically no conditions for elementary diplomatic work and ... we suspend the work of our permanent mission to NATO."

Lavrov said the work of Russia's chief military envoy will end by Nov. 1 or several days later.

NATO initially suspended practical cooperation with Russia in 2014, following its annexation of the Ukrainian Crimean Peninsula. However, channels have been kept open for high-level meetings and military discussions. 

German Foreign Minister Heiko Mass said Russia's decision "will further prolong the difficult situation we’re in, this frosty period that’s been going on for some time."