Austrian Foreign Minister reschedules visit to Russia because of spy scandal

Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl rescheduled her visit to Russia. She explained that due to the scandal related to alleged espionage involving Russia, the visit was rescheduled to a later time.

“Yes, it has been rescheduled. We intend to get the “Sochi dialogue” started but due to this case with espionage I have rescheduled the visit,” RIA Novosti cites Kneissl as saying. She did not specify a new date for the visit.

Earlier, a former Colonel of the Armed Forces was detained in Austria on suspicion of spying for Russia. He had allegedly been spying for Russia for 20 years.

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.

Earlier, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz satated on television channel ORF that the Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Karin Kneiss canceled the planned visit to Russia in December. 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.

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.

  Austria, Russia