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Russia vows retaliation against expulsion of diplomats from NATO mission

NATO is 'an anti-Russian bloc', says Kremlin spokesman after NATO halves maximum size of Russian delegation in Brussels

Elena Teslova   | 08.10.2021
Russia vows retaliation against expulsion of diplomats from NATO mission

MOSCOW

Russia on Friday pledged to retaliate against a recent decision by NATO to reduce the staff of Moscow's permanent mission in Brussels.

Speaking at a press briefing in Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stressed that NATO was not "a mechanism of cooperation," but rather "an anti-Russian bloc," confirmed by its actions that reduce possibilities for the dialogue.

Peskov said Russia would introduce "some retaliatory measures" that would "best meet our interests."

As for cooperation with the European Commission, he said it was difficult to accept "bipolar statements" from Europe on containing Russia while also developing ties.

Despite this, Russia is interested in unfreezing relations with the EU, the spokesman added.

"We are interested in unfreezing (ties), we believe that we have a lot of topics for mutual discussion," he said.

NATO closed two vacant positions and canceled the accreditation of eight members of the Russian mission on Wednesday, claiming that they were "undeclared Russian intelligence officers."

A NATO official said the alliance reduced the number of positions Russia can accredit from 20 to 10, while declaring "openness for a meaningful dialogue."

Russian, Japanese leaders agree to pursue peace treaty

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japan's new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida confirmed their willingness to sign a post-war peace treaty, Peskov told reporters.

The two leaders did not, however, discuss a schedule for personal contacts yet, but they both are committed to maintaining dialogue on the issue at all levels, which was confirmed during their first phone talk on Thursday, he said.

Kishida said on Thursday that he and Putin agreed to move forward with negotiations on a post-war peace agreement between the two countries.

At the 1945 Yalta Conference, the Soviet Union agreed to start military operations on the eastern front under an agreement with its Western allies, and in exchange, received some Japanese territories, including the Kuril Islands.

After the war, however, Japan rejected the Soviet Union's sovereignty over the islands.

Due to the dispute, Russia and Japan never signed a peace treaty and are technically still at war. As both sides claim the territories, the question of the Kurils' sovereignty remains uncertain.

Tokyo regularly protests visits of Russian officials to the islands.

Russian authorities fear the possible deployment of US missile systems on the islands if they are returned to Japan, creating a direct military threat to Russia.

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