Today, Monday October 18, 2021, Russia announced that it would stop its diplomatic mission to NATO following the alliance’s expulsion of eight Russians accused of being spies earlier this month. Staff at NATO’s military mission in Moscow will also lose their accreditation as of Nov. 1, and the alliance’s information office in the Russian capital will close. In addition, NATO cut the size of Moscow’s team allowed to work at its headquarters in Brussels from 20 people to 10. Russia at the time said it could retaliate with similar measures. NATO-Russia relations have been strained since Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014. Russia has since held frequent military drills near its borders with other European countries, engaged in nuclear missile development and sent military flights into NATO airspace and near allied ships.

No doubt it’s easier to communicate with Russia if its mission in Brussels isn’t shut down. But given the poor state of the relationship, this shouldn’t make much of a difference. Since the annexation of Crimea in 2014, the two sides haven’t really been speaking to each other, let alone interacting on a working level. As Russia shows no sign of withdrawing from Crimea anytime soon, which was NATO’s condition to return to normal relations, this situation is likely to continue for as long as it takes. While Russia suggests that NATO could approach its ambassador in Brussels on “urgent” matters, it remains to be seen whether the alliance will appoint an ambassador to deal with Russia.