Lavrov says NATO’s reaction to Russia’s response steps reveals lack of diplomatic culture

SOCHI (TASS) : NATO’s reaction to Russia’s decision to suspend the work of diplomatic missions in Brussels and in Moscow demonstrates that the Alliance understands its losing position and reveals the lack of diplomatic culture, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday.

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu told TASS earlier that NATO regrets Russia’s decision to suspend diplomatic missions in Brussels and in Moscow but remains open for dialogue, including through the Russian-NATO Council, at the same time continuing its policy of containing Russia.

“I think that such pronouncements and assessments by Western representatives reveal an understanding of their losing position, and on the other hand, their inclination to shift the blame onto someone else, as well as the lack of a diplomatic culture,” he told journalists after a meeting with the participants in the 18th annual session of the Valdai international discussion club.

According to Lavrov, NATO countries “simply buried the basic principle” of the Russia-NATO Council that urgent consultations must be called in crisis situations.

“And as concerns the attitudes to our forces response step that are voiced in NATO capitals: it was a response to three of NATO’s steps because they reduced our mission three times. And, what is more important, they don’t let us work,” he said, adding that unlike all other NATO partners, Russian representatives need to apply for a permit to enter the NATO headquarters building.

“They have to walk only along those corridors that are indicated. And, in principle, we have had no information exchanges for a long time,” he said.

And most importantly, in his words, all contacts between the military have been cut off. “So, what kind of a loss of a possibility for dialogue are we talking about? Two years ago, our Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov suggested drills be moved to a certain distance from the contact line between Russia and NATO and an agreement be reached on minimal distances not to be violated by warplanes and warships. We suggested many other things. And there was a wall of silence [in response],” the Russian top diplomat noted.

“And when the German foreign minister says that this way Russia is demonstrating its unpreparedness for talks – I have just said how we were ready and how NATO keeps on ignoring us for years,” he stressed.

Lavrov said on Monday that Russia is suspending its permanent mission to NATO from November 1 in response to NATO’s decision to revoke the accreditation of eight staffers of the Russian mission. Apart from that, Russia is suspending the NATO Information Office in Moscow and the NATO Military Liaison Mission Moscow starting on November 1 because Russia sees “no reason to continue to pretend that any changes [in relations with NATO] are possible in the foreseeable future,” Lavrov said.

On October 6, NATO announced the reduction of the Russian mission from 20 to 10 people and revoked the accreditation of eight diplomats. Two more open vacancies were eliminated. The Alliance said the Russian diplomats are to leave Brussels before the end of this month.

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