In this photo NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. As NATO countries' foreign ministers prepare to meet, the military bloc says it has cleaned house of Russian spies and revived a hotline to the Kremlin. Photo Courtesy of wikimedia.org/ Harry Wad.
BRUSSELS, May 12 (UPI) -- As NATO countries' foreign ministers prepare to meet in Turkey this week, the military bloc says it has cleaned house of Russian spies and revived a hotline to the Kremlin.
Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday NATO has reduced the staffs of delegations of non-NATO states at its Brussels headquarters to 30. Russia, a non-NATO country, was the only representative with more than 30 people, with some estimates saying the number is about 90, and diplomats and officials have said privately about half were presumed to be working for Russia's intelligence agencies.
"The ceiling is set at 30, which is high and which applies to all delegations. It is not aimed at any particular delegation or a particular country. As far as I know, my impression is that this is something that is accepted and is now going to be implemented over some months," Stoltenberg told the British newspaper The Guardian.
He added Cold war-style hotlines, to the Kremlin and the Russian general military staff, have been revived, as direct contact lines to reduce misunderstandings. Stoltenberg said recent Russian air activity over the Black Sea, Baltic Sea and Norwegian Sea suggested a faster way to communicate was needed.
"It's important to have contacts military to military in a normal situation so that if something not normal happens, you're able to clarify misunderstandings, to avoid situations out of control," Stoltenberg said.
The meeting of foreign ministers in Antalya, Turkey, Tuesday and Wednesday will focus on Russian aggression, the rise of the Islamic State along NATO's southern flank and NATO involvement in Afghanistan. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will attend.