Reports: Kremlin Says NATO Diplomatic Expulsions Undermine Ties With Moscow.

The Kremlin says that NATO's expulsion of eight Russians from Moscow’s diplomatic mission to the alliance "almost completely" undermined any hope for improving relations.
Spokesman Dmitry Peskov's comments on October 7 come one day after NATO officials announced the decision to kick out the Russians, who it said were in fact "undeclared intelligence officers.” The move cut Russia's official mission to NATO in half. "There is an obvious contradiction in the statements of NATO representatives about the desire to normalize relations with our country in real action," Peskov was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies. "These actions, of course, do not allow us to have any illusions about the possibility of normalizing relations, or resuming dialogue with NATO.," he said. "On the contrary, these prospects are almost completely undermined." Long simmering relations between the alliance and Russia took a nose dive in 2014 after Moscow annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and stoked conflict in eastern Ukraine -- a war that continues to this day. Russian officials meanwhile have accused the alliance of duplicity for expanding into former Soviet countries and former republics in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and for backing a U.S. plan to deploy missile defense systems in Eastern Europe. The 30-member alliance has also voiced concern over increased military activity along NATO borders The expulsions were the second of its sort in recent years. In 2018, seven Russian diplomats were kicked out following the poisoning of former military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal in England. At the time, NATO also reduced the size of the Russian mission from 30 to 20 people.

With reporting by Interfax and TASS

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