Moscow severs ties with Nato

Russia is suspending its diplomatic mission to the Nato headquarters in Brussels until further notice. According to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the military alliance's offices in Moscow will also be closed on 1 November. The Kremlin cited the Alliance's decision to withdraw accreditation from Russian diplomats on suspicion of espionage as the reason for the move. Europe's press voices concern.

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Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Dangerous silence

Silke Bigalke, Moscow correspondent for the Süddeutsche Zeitung, fears serious consequences:

“Silence is particularly dangerous in the military sphere. Diplomatic conflicts are one thing. But it is quite another when armies exchange information through their channels, inform each other of exercises and, if necessary, appease each other after another fighter plane has scraped past a national border. In such cases dialogue prevents real conflicts. There are now no official channels between Nato and Russia.”

Jyllands-Posten (DK) /

Relations at a low point

Jyllands-Posten is pessimistic:

“No one who knows what Putin is like will assume that it's possible to return to the days when relations between Russia and Nato were gradually thawing after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Instead of seizing opportunities for peaceful cooperation, Putin has consistently taken paths that increase tensions. The annexation of Crimea was the high point, or rather the low point, in that trend - for the time being. ... Clear language must be used vis-à-vis the Kremlin. However, the experiences of the Cold War also show that dialogue is necessary to avoid things getting completely out of hand. Russia knows that too. But it is not helping to reduce tensions.”

Radio Kommersant FM (RU) /

Russophobia driving Moscow into Beijing's arms

Radio Kommersant FM says the closure poses a strategic problem for Nato:

“Washington, as the strongest power in the Alliance, is currently realising that its main opponent for the next decades will be China. It follows that it should avoid creating additional problems with Moscow, as that would only drive the latter into Beijing's arms. In a future hypothetical confrontation with China, Russia's neutrality would be ideal for the US. But with their eternal complexes and phobias about Moscow, the Nato members from Eastern Europe and the former USSR stand in the way of this strategy. ... As long as important states (the US, Germany, France, Italy) are forced to take account of the phobias of their junior partners in Nato, any dialogue between Moscow and this organisation will be pointless.”

Corriere del Ticino (CH) /

This is actually about Eastern Europe

Espionage is not the reason for the closure, Corriere del Ticino writes:

“The Kremlin accuses the Alliance of wanting to extend its influence to Ukraine and Georgia, which Russia still considers to be within its scope of authority. ... And the timing of Moscow's decision is not coincidental either: on Monday, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived in Georgia, and he will also visit Ukraine and Romania - countries that border the Black Sea and are under pressure from Moscow. ... Indeed, Russian air and naval forces in the region pose an increasing challenge to Nato members. ... The Pentagon chief's trip is likely to cause further annoyance in the Kremlin.”