Italian police have arrested an Italian navy officer for attempting to sell the country’s secret documents to a Russian spy who worked inside the Russian embassy in Rome, according to a police statement that was released today.
The two men were caught on the act by the military police, who had received information about the transaction taking place in a car park and involved €5,000, which was to be paid to the Italian navy officer.
According to reports, the document had military communication codes. Information about NATO sold to Russia would jeopardize Italy’s national security and their European allies, all members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
The incident has been described as the most serious since the end of the Cold War. Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio has also announced that the Russians having links to this incident will be expelled with immediate effect while Italian nationals linked to it will be brought to book.
The Russian embassy in Rome has confirmed that one of its military officers working at the embassy was involved in the incident and told the press that “we don’t have information about the reasons for or the circumstances of this detention” but will give details to the press once they have the right information.
Relations between Russia and Italy are now hanging in the balance as the Italian government is now pushing hard to expel the Russian embassy staff’s circle who may have been involved in this incident or had knowledge about it and kept quiet.
In 2016, the US government accused the Russians of interference in the 2016 presidential election in which President Putin was accused of supporting the former US President Donald Trump. Still, the Russian denied the allegations and said they had no reason to interfere in the election.
Russia had a rough relationship with NATO when they moved into Ukraine and annexed Crimea in 2014.