Russia expels NATO envoys

MOSCOW: Russia today expelled two Canadian diplomats working as representatives of the NATO alliance, officials said, in a further deterioration of relations between the alliance and Moscow.

Canada’s ambassador was summoned to Russia’s foreign ministry and handed a note informing him of the expulsion of the head and deputy head of the NATO representative office in Moscow “in response to an unfriendly act by NATO against Russian envoys to NATO,” the Russian foreign ministry said.

The explanation was a reference to NATO’s expulsion of two Russian envoys accredited at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels for alleged involvement in a spy scandal, a charge Moscow has furiously denied.

Russia’s outspoken ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, hammered home Moscow’s dim view of the alliance in an interview published in the daily Izvestia. “This organisation is becoming more and more unpredictable.... The alliance can’t seem to behave itself in a respectable, stable and decent way,” Rogozin told the newspaper.

A spokesman for Canada’s embassy, Nicholas Brousseau, told AFP that Canada “strongly” regretted Russia’s tit-for-tat decision to expel the two diplomats and said NATO was interested in patching up ties with Moscow.

“Canada and NATO allies have been seeking ways to re-engage Russia. The decision to terminate the accreditation of NATO officials is counter-productive,” said Brousseau.