Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

EU, Ukraine condemn Russia's interference in Austria's affairs

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz
Kenny Thornton | 11 November, 2018, 19:21

Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl said earlier that the alleged espionage case may seriously damage relations between the two nations.

"If the suspicion is confirmed, such cases, whether in the Netherlands or in Austria, don't improve the relationship between Russian Federation and the European Union", Kurz noted, reports Xinhua news agency.

Austrian authorities have questioned a recently retired senior military officer on suspicion of spying for Russian Federation for decades, and demanded an explanation from Moscow, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said on Friday.

After that, the Russian foreign Ministry protested to the Austrian Ambassador, stressing that adopted by the Vienna steps based on "unsubstantiated" suspicions, have led to complication of relations between Russia and Austria, who "until recently was characterized by positive dynamics".

In a possible shift in attitude, Austria's foreign minister has cancelled a planned trip to Moscow over the suspected spy case and summoned the Russian charge d'affaires since the ambassador is outside the country.

As noted in the foreign Ministry, Kneisl explained the motives in Vienna, taking decisions in the situation, and expressed hope that these steps will not affect the further development of cooperation between Austria and Russian Federation.

The case has been referred to prosecutors and the former colonel has been questioned.

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The Minister of defence of Austria intends to call itself the military attache of Russian Federation in the country on this case.

"We can't say for the moment whether this is an isolated incident or not", Kunasek said.

He said the man, whose electronic devices, including a laptop, were being examined, had told investigators that his handlers were interested in weapons systems, recent migration to Austria and information about Austrian personalities.

Previously Switzerland complained about the dominance of Russian spies in the country. Russia's Foreign Minister Lavrov criticized Vienna for using "megaphone diplomacy" instead of traditional diplomatic methods.

According to Austrian press reports, the colonel was paid 300,000 euros ($340,000) for his services.

According to journalists, the former officer would share contacts stored in the corporate network of the Austrian army with Russian Federation.

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