Six months after the attempted poisoning of the former double agent Sergei Skripal in the UK, Russia found itself in the middle of a new “espionage scandal.”
The Austrian Defense Ministry on Friday reported the arrest of a 70-year-old retired colonel, who engaged in espionage for Russia more than 20 years.
“The military counterintelligence service through international cooperation opened the espionage case. The retired officer of the Austrian army from the 1990’s spied on the Bundesheer (Austrian army) and passed documents to Russia. A case was initiated against him,” stated the official representative of the Austrian Defense Ministry Michael Bauer
According to the Kronen Zeitung, the colonel from Salzburg handed over information on the migration crisis, Austrian military aviation, and artillery systems to Russian military intelligence, receiving more than 300 thousand euros for his services.
The Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs Karin Kneissl, who’s wedding Russian President Vladimir Putin attended in August, accompanied by a Cossack ensemble, canceled the planned visit to Russia in December.
This was stated by Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz on television channel ORF. Vienna is waiting for an explanation from Moscow on the case, adding that “espionage is unacceptable and should be condemned.”
“If our suspicions are confirmed, the relationship between Russia and the European Union will not improve. We will discuss further steps with our European partners,” said Kurz.
On Friday, Mario Kunasek, the Austrian Minister of Defense stated that they received information about the spy from the intelligence services of one of the EU countries. He added that the Russian military attaché was called to the department for an explanation.
Austria is the largest recipient of Russian gas in Europe. Through the hub in Baumgarten about a third of Gazprom gas is delivered to the EU.
Austria was also the first European country that signed an agreement in 1968 to buy gas from the USSR.