Russia's mission to NATO is reduced from 50 to 30 people due to suspicions of espionage of its employees, Joinfo.ua reports with reference to The New York Times.
The official pretext of reducing the mission is "administrative effort to limit the size of delegations of the partner countries".
But, according to Western officials, NATO made such a move because of the report of the Alliance's Civilian Intelligence Committee suggesting that the Russian intelligence agents had been part of Russia's delegation.
According to the sources of the news agency, such facts did not cause much surprise and reduction of the delegation's staff will not eliminate the risk of further Russian espionage.
However, according to officials, this measure can make the problem "easier to manage".
It is reported that Russia and several other partner countries were officially notified of shrinking of the staff last week.
"Currently, NATO pursues dialogue and practical cooperation with 41 partner countries," said Carmen Romero, a deputy NATO spokeswoman.
"This is a practical measure, which applies to all partners at NATO headquarters, including Russia," she specified.
Earlier, counterintelligence special services of Lithuania informed that Russian diplomats and their actions threatened security of the country – Russia was conducting active espionage activities in Lithuania. According to counterintelligence of Lithuania, about a third of Russian diplomats in the country is working on their special services or somehow is connected with them.