NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced yesterday that the alliance is expelling seven Russian diplomats and denying the pending accreditation of three others.
“The attack in Salisbury was the first use of a nerve agent on NATO territory,” Stoltenberg said Tuesday.
“On March 14, NATO Allies made clear their deep concern, and condemnation of this reckless breach of international norms. Since then, intensive consultations have taken place among Allies, including here at NATO and in capitals. Those consultations have resulted so far in the expulsion of over 140 Russian officials by over 25 NATO Allies and partners.
“Our actions reflect the serious security concerns expressed by all Allies, and are part of the coordinated international effort to respond to Russia’s behavior,” he said. “They are proportionate, and in line with our legal obligations.”
“This is a broad, strong and coordinated international response,” Stoltenberg continued, “and as part of that response, NATO is unified in taking further steps.” Stoltenberg said NATO was taking further steps beyond the expulsion or denial of accreditation of the 10 diplomats, reducing “the maximum size of the Russian Mission to NATO by ten people, in line with my decision. This will bring the maximum size down to twenty.”
“This sends a clear message to Russia that there are costs and consequences for its unacceptable and dangerous pattern of behavior,” Stoltenberg said, “and it follows Russia’s lack of constructive response to what happened in Salisbury.
“Our actions reflect the serious security concerns expressed by all Allies, and are part of the coordinated international effort to respond to Russia’s behavior,” he said. “They are proportionate, and in line with our legal obligations.
“Today’s decision does not change NATO’s policy towards Russia,” Stoltenberg concluded. “NATO remains committed to our dual-track approach of strong defense and openness to dialogue, including by working to prepare the next meeting of the NATO-Russia Council.”