In October, NATO expelled eight members of the Russian representation who were accuse of spying. One of those "undeclared intelligence officers" was Aleksandr Smuško, who is of Estonian origin, news portal EUobserver reported on Monday.
NATO president Jens Stoltenberg announced the expulsion of eight Russian officials in October, claiming that they were "undeclared intelligence officers" conducting "activities not in line with their accreditation", EUobserver reported.
The identities of the spies were never revealed, but the list was made public by EUobserver and the Dossier Center, a London-based NGO. On the list is also Aleksandr Smuško, who is of Estonian origin and had a close relationship with Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu and several other high-ranking Russian military officials.
Along with Smuško, his wife Nina also left Belgium. While she was not officially working as a diplomat in Brussels, her background and profile also caused concern as she was also a graduate of the Military University of the Ministry of Defence (VUMO) in Moscow and became an interpreter for visiting military officers to VUMO.
Russia has some 200 diplomats and consular officials at various missions in Brussels and in Belgium's second-largest city, Antwerp, EUobserver wrote. The 2021 Nato expulsions were the fourth round in recent times.
Intelligence sources claim at least half of Russia's diplomats were intelligence officers, while another 100 or so Russian spies worked under non-diplomatic cover in businesses, think-tanks, and NGOs in Belgium.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste