NATO withdraws accreditation of eight Russian officials in response to a rise in “malign activities” by Moscow,

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday that the organization withdrew the accreditation of eight Russian officials to the military alliance in response to a rise in “malign activities” by Moscow, AP reports.

The eight officials are to be deprived of access to NATO’s Brussels headquarters from the end of the month because it believes they have been secretly working as intelligence officers. NATO also reduced the number of positions that Russia can accredit people for from 20 down to 10.

“This decision is not linked to any particular event, but we have seen over some time now an increase in Russian malign activity, and therefore we need to be vigilant,” Stoltenberg told reporters.

“The relationship between NATO and Russia is at its lowest point since the end of the Cold War. That’s because of the Russian behavior. We have seen their aggressive actions, not least against Ukraine, but also the significant military buildup and violations of important arms control agreements,” he said.

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