Italy on Wednesday expelled two Russian embassy officials believed to be involved in what Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio dubbed a “very serious matter”. The two Russian embassy officials engaged in spying and were expelled by the Italian foreign ministry immediately after the Russian ambassador Sergey Razov was summoned. According to the BBC, an Italian Navy captain was also arrested in connection with the case after he was caught handing over documents to a Russian military attache at a secret meeting that took place in a car.
“We transmitted the firm protest of the Italian government to the Russian ambassador in Italy and notified the immediate expulsion of the two Russian officials involved in this very serious affair,” Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said in a tweet.
Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio also thanked Italy’s intelligence and all the state apparatus that work for the security of the country. According to the BBC, the Russian official allegedly paid money in exchange for the documents that the Italian Navy captain was caught passing. Media reports suggest that the Russian military official paid €5,000 in cash to the Italian Navy captain in exchange for the sensitive documents.
The Italian Navy official is apparently the captain of a frigate and was handing over secret NATO documents. The Italian captain has been taken into custody by military police and is being questioned. The meeting, which took place on Tuesday, occurred at a secret location, which the Italian police has refused to comment on. The Russian embassy in Milan has confirmed the involvement of a military official but denied commenting further, As per reports, the Russian foreign ministry in Moscow is contemplating a response to Italy's decision to expel its embassy officials. It is not clear whether the Russian official, who had met the Italian Navy captain, was expelled.