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Russia slams NATO plan to expel diplomats

  • Story Highlights
  • Russia says NATO plans to expel two diplomats from its headquarters
  • Moscow called the move a "rude provocative act"
  • NATO refuses to confirm or deny the Russian allegation
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MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) -- NATO intends to expel two Russian diplomats from its headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Thursday.

Moscow labeled the reported move "rude," "provocative," and "outrageous."

NATO declined to confirm it was expelling the envoys, with a spokeswoman telling CNN: "We as NATO do not comment on this issue."

Russia's Foreign Ministry issued an angry statement about the expulsion.

"We have learned about a rude provocative act against two staff members of the Russian mission at NATO, whom the alliance security service would like to expel from Brussels under a far-fetched pretext and without any clear explanations," the statement said.

The Russian permanent representative to NATO named the diplomats as senior adviser and political desk chief Viktor Kochukov, and mission attache and executive secretary Vasily Chizhov, the Russian news agency Interfax reported.

"They are accused of espionage incompatible with the diplomatic status," the representative, Dmitry Rogozin, told Interfax on Thursday.

When diplomats are expelled, it is often on the assumption that they are spies.

The Russian mission to NATO told CNN there was no one available to answer questions about the incident.

Relations between NATO and Moscow have been tense since Russia's invasion of Georgia, its neighbor to the south, last August.

CNN's Maxim Tkachenko in Moscow contributed to this report.

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