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Russia cuts off contact with NATO over worsening relations

By
Clyde Hughes
U.S. President Donald Trump meets NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on April 2 in the Oval Office of the White House. Photo by Ron Sachs/UPI
U.S. President Donald Trump meets NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on April 2 in the Oval Office of the White House. Photo by Ron Sachs/UPI | License Photo

April 15 (UPI) -- The Russian government said Monday it's severed contact with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, halting a relationship that's been deteriorating for years.

Russian Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said Moscow no longer has any diplomatic contact with NATO in civil or military matters. He said the move is an answer to NATO ending contact with Moscow on military issues.

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The relationship has been strained since Russia forcibly annexed the Crimea peninsula in 2014. Tensions flared again last year when Russia captured Ukrainian soldiers and military ships in the Kerch Strait, a move Western governments said violated international law.

"NATO has itself abandoned a positive agenda in its relations with Russia," Grushko told state-run Russian news agencies.

Grushko said NATO and Russia had been cooperating under a "normal working relationship" before now.

"It's a paradox, but today's Russia-NATO relations are very reminiscent of the 'common' state of affairs, for which NATO was created -- for the Cold War," Grushko said.

The remarks came as the United States and Russia also are experiencing strained relations, although President Donald Trump has made repeated efforts to normalize diplomacy. U.S. military officers have said a lack of diplomacy between Moscow and Washington could lead to military escalation.

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The U.S. military says it plans to temporarily deploy the THAAD anti-missile protection system in Romania this summer while NATO's Aegis Ashore Missile Defense System is updated.

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