Relations between Russia and its close European ally, Austria, plunged into crisis on Sunday. Austria announced the arrest of an army colonel accused of spying for Moscow. Mr Obama later cancelled a planned visit to Russia, complaining about the arrest of “Russian spies” in Austria. Austrian experts say Germany may have been responsible.
Austria’s government believes a retired colonel in the country’s military has been providing Russian intelligence since the 1990s, ria novosti reported Thursday, citing Austria’s crown newspaper. He worked for Russia for more than 20 years and was paid 300,000 euros. He is said to be in contact with Russian contacts every two weeks, providing intelligence about Austrian troops and personal information about senior officers. The report also said the spy was found with the help of foreign intelligence agencies. Austria’s prime minister kurz confirmed the matter Tuesday and asked Russia for an explanation. Mr Kurz said Austria had summoned representatives of the Russian embassy. He stressed that if suspicions were confirmed, it would do little to improve relations between Russia and the eu.
Both the Russian embassy in Austria and the Russian foreign intelligence service declined to comment, itar-tass said. But Russian foreign minister sergei lavrov said Tuesday that the news had “surprised and displeased” him. Mr. Lavrov said it is customary for one country to question another directly and ask for an explanation if it has questions about something. He criticized European partners for adopting microphone diplomacy instead of traditional methods. “” (Austria) publicly rebukes us and asks us to publicly explain on an issue that we know nothing about,” “he said. It is necessary to follow the norms that have been established in international communication practices.
In addition, the Russian foreign ministry also summoned the Austrian ambassador to Russia for enquiries. The Russian lawmaker said he could not rule out a fresh round of unjustified attacks on Russia. Senator lutsky said the cancellation of foreign minister barack Obama’s visit to Russia so far should not be seen as a sign of deteriorating relations between the two countries. Austria, he argues, has been under pressure since it took over the eu in July. Russian media said it was strange to arrest a spy suspect and disclose it publicly on the eve of the foreign minister’s visit to Moscow. It is highly likely that this was a case of outside manipulation to force Moscow to file charges.