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5 May, 2009 09:48

Russia refuses participation in Russia-NATO meeting

Russia will not participate in an upcoming NATO-Russia meeting in light of the expulsion of two Russian envoys to NATO in Brussels.

A Russia-NATO council meeting was scheduled for May 19 in which Russian Foregin Minister Sergey Lavrov was supposed to take part. However, Russian representative to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, has said that Russia does not plan to take part in it.

“I have to announce that the Russia-NATO council meeting will not take place,” said Rogozin.

“I must state that the alliance is not willing to renew the political dialogue with Russia,” he added. “We will follow the development of the situation.”

NATO expressed regret at the decision by Russia to call off the NATO-Russia council meeting.

“We received the information about Russia’s wish not to participate in the meeting. The General Secretary of NATO Jaap de Hoop Scheffer took the information with regret,” said a NATO representative.

“We hope that in short time we will come to an understanding and in the near future we will hold the council meeting.”

Belgium expels Russian NATO envoys

Belgium has officially expelled two Russian diplomats to NATO who were stripped last week by NATO officials of their accreditation.

“We have formally informed the Russian delegation that this accreditation is no longer valid, and thus there are no grounds for them to carry out their diplomatic functions in Belgium,” said Belgium Foregin Ministry spokeswoman Delphnie Colard.

The two envoys lost their diplomatic status to NATO when the alliance said they had been working as undercover agents.

The first announcement about the possible expulsion came on 29 April, immediately after the first meeting between Russia and NATO since relations had ceased during the conflict in South Ossetia.

Russia’s EU representative responds

One of the two envoys is the son of the Russian representative to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, who was outraged by the decision.

“It is a flagrant and outrageous provocation, which makes me indignant and disgusted. I am sure its initiators were well aware what this staff was in fact doing, including my son. And if they were not, they are bold professionals,” said Chizhov.

“Apparently, those who initiated it wanted to damage Russia-NATO relations, which were driven into a deadlock in the second half of last year through no fault of ours. If they hoped this would damage me in some way or another, they miscalculated.”

Chizhov indicated that he remained confident that this latest event would not affect his work at the EU.

“I am sure that this incident will in no way influence the general tone of my work as Russian representative to the European Union," he said.

The expulsion of the Russian diplomats from Brussels has spoiled relations between Russia and NATO says Russian representative to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin.

“We need to figure out who needed to fabricate a case against two diplomats with flawless reputations,” said Rogozin.

“I would like to organize a meeting as fast as possible on a representative level to discuss why and who would have been interested in reversing our current relationship situation to what it was several months ago.”