Italy expelled two Russian diplomats who were to receive classified NATO documents in exchange for monetary rewards.
Russia's relations with one of the friendly countries of the European Union, Italy, have been darkened by a spy scandal. Rome expelled two Russian diplomats after the arrest of an Italian naval officer and a staff member of the military attache of the Russian embassy, suspected of spying for Moscow.
The current scandal is unprecedented in the recent history of relations between Italy and Russia. The Italian Foreign Ministry called the spy incident вЂњa hostile act of extreme seriousnessвЂќ and вЂњa threat to the security not only of Italy but of NATO as a whole.вЂќ
Italy expelled Russian diplomats Dmitry Ostroukhov and Alexei Nemudrov to Moscow, the Italian newspaper reported on April 1. Ostroukhov was an employee of the office of the military attache of the Russian embassy. Nemudrov, according to the information on the website of the embassy, was air and naval attache.
The reason for the expulsion of the diplomats was the detention in Rome of a senior officer of the Italian Navy, Walter Biot, and a military officer of the Russian embassy on suspicion of spying for the Russian Federation. Both suspects were captured during a secret meeting while the Italian handed over classified documents in exchange for a monetary reward.
The Italian media, referring to sources in the investigating authorities, reported that the detained Russian was collecting classified information not only about Italy but also about NATO in general. Later, the Russian embassy in Rome confirmed the arrest of an employee of the military attache's office.
Ostroukhov was the detained Russian while receiving secret documents by the Italian carabinieri. The documents that he was supposed to receive relating to the issue of remote data transmission of the Italian Ministry of Defense. Five thousand euros were promised for the Italian documents classified as вЂњtop secretвЂќ, reports Il Sole 24 Ore.
The Corriere Della Sera newspaper reports that the second expelled Russian diplomat is the вЂњimmediate superiorвЂќ of the officer caught red-handed.
Biot served in Section 3 of the Defense Planning Policy of the General Directorate of Defense. Of all the divisions of the Defense Directorate, this department is the most secret, notes Il Sole 24 Ore. Among other things, he was engaged in technical-military consultations in international negotiations on military issues.
According to ANSA, the naval officer photographed secret documents from a computer screen and uploaded the photo to a USB flash drive, which he was going to transfer to the Russian officer. The documents related to the activities of the Italian armed forces and NATO, the press reports. Biot faces up to ten years in prison.
As noted by the newspaper La Repubblica, the operation was preceded by a lengthy investigation, which involved the Italian Internal Information and Security Agency, a special operations group of the Italian carabinieri, as well as representatives of the country's intelligence and defense headquarters.
The situation with the detention of an employee of the military attache office at the Russian Embassy in Rome endangers the security of not only Italy but the entire North Atlantic Alliance, said the country's Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio. He noted that Moscow's actions are вЂњa hostile act of extreme seriousness.вЂќ
вЂњWhat happened today is unacceptable and will entail consequences, there is no doubt about it. parliament.
The expulsion of Russian diplomats from foreign countries has increased in recent years. In just three months of this year, this is already the fifth case of declaring employees of Russian diplomatic missions persona non grata and the second on charges of espionage.