Rome_ Italy has expelled two Russian diplomats on Wednesday accusing them of spying for Russia. Moscow vowed to retaliate amid increasing tension between Russia and NATO countries.
Russia’s ambassador Sergey Razov has been summoned to the foreign ministry in Rome and later the Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said two Russian officials “involved in this very serious affair” were being expelled with immediate effect.
An Italian navy officer has been arrested after being allegedly caught in the act of handing secret documents to a Russian military official, police say. The men were stopped by military police on suspicion of serious crimes relating to espionage and state security, according to news reports.
The carabinieri del Ros special operations group swooped on the men in Rome on Tuesday evening “during a clandestine meeting between the two,” a police statement said.
They were “caught immediately after the transfer of a document by the Italian officer in exchange for a sum of money”, it added. Italian media reported that the exchange had taken place in a car park and involved €5,000 in cash.
The Italian is described as being the captain of a frigate and the Russian officer’s diplomatic status is currently being assessed.
The Russian embassy confirmed the involvement of a military attaché official but said any further comment was inappropriate, adding that it hoped the incident would not affect relations, Russia’s Ria news agency reported.