March 27, 2018 / 3:52 PM / in 8 months

Expulsion of Russian diplomats shows NATO relevance: Mattis

U.S. Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis addresses a news conference during a NATO defence ministers meeting at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, February 15, 2018. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Tuesday that NATO’s expulsion of Russian diplomats showed the alliance was still relevant, adding that Moscow had the potential to be a partner with Europe but had chosen a different path.

“Russia has the potential to be a partner with Europe ... (but) I think right now we have to recognize that they have chosen to seek a different relationship with the NATO nations,” Mattis told reporters.

Earlier on Tuesday, NATO said it was expelling seven diplomats from Russia’s mission to the alliance. It followed moves by governments in Europe, the United States and beyond to expel more than 100 Russian diplomats in retaliation for an alleged attack on a former Russian spy in Britain.

Reporting by Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart; Editing by Paul Simao

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