March 31, 2021 – 14:34
Rome ordered the deportation of two Russian officials on suspicion of espionage.
Italian police said earlier that they had arrested an Italian Navy captain, along with a Russian military official, in connection with the espionage case.
The Italian Foreign Ministry later announced that it had summoned Russian Ambassador Sergei Razov for an informative conversation.
Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said he had informed the ambassador of the “immediate expulsion of two Russian officials involved in this extremely serious incident”.
Relations between Russia and NATO member states have been strained by several espionage scandals in recent years.
Russia’s embassy in Rome initially said an employee of its military attaché’s office had been arrested and that “details of the case are being clarified.”
Reuters later quoted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s office as saying he hoped ties with Italy would remain constructive and positive, regardless of the case.
The Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera reported that the detained Russian official, who worked at the Russian Embassy, had been ordered to leave along with a superior.
The newspaper also said that the Italian captain, who was arrested by handing over secret documents to the Russian official, possessed not only Italian files, but also “very secret NATO documents”, thus endangering not only the security of Italy, but also of other countries.
Police said the Italian officer was taken into custody.
Last week, Bulgaria also expelled two Russian diplomats for, as he said, activities “incompatible” with their diplomatic status./REL