Italy expelled two diplomats from the Russian embassy in Rome after arresting an Italian navy officer “in flagrante delicto to hand over classified documents to a Russian military official in an espionage case that angered Rome.”
Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said that this is a very dangerous matter.
Russia said it would respond in kind.
Italian police said that a naval officer was arrested while he was handing confidential documents to a Russian military official.
The military police arrested the two men on suspicion of committing serious espionage and state security crimes.
The Italian Foreign Ministry in Rome summoned the Russian ambassador, Sergey Razov.
A police statement said that a group of the Italian National Gendarmerie Forces for Special Operations seized the two men in Rome on Tuesday evening, “during a secret meeting between them, and they were arrested immediately after the Italian officer handed over a document in exchange for a sum of money.”
The Italian officer is described as a sea captain of a frigate, while the Russian officer’s diplomatic situation is being assessed.
The Russian embassy confirmed the arrest of its military attache, but said that any further comment would be inappropriate, adding that it hoped the incident would not affect relations between the two countries, according to the Russian RIA news agency.
The Italian “Courier” website stated that the papers seized in the apartment of the naval officer indicate that he may have divulged NATO secrets, which endangers the national security of other countries.
The decline in Russian relations with SwearNATO“
The police acted as a result of a lengthy operation of the Italian domestic intelligence agency, and Italian media described the incident as the most serious since the Cold War.
Relations between Moscow and NATO have deteriorated since Russia seized the Ukrainian region of Crimea and annexed it to its territory in 2014, as well as poisoning Notable Russian dissident Alexei Navalny, Now held by Russia, to the deterioration of relations.
Last week, Bulgaria, a member of NATO, expelled two Russian diplomats for “intelligence activity that interferes with diplomatic relations.”
Italian fighter jets also participated in a NATO operation to intercept Russian aircraft over the Baltic Sea on Monday.