Two Russian embassy officials were expelled by Italy on Wednesday after a senior Italian naval officer tried to sell them classified information. The officer has been arrested.
According to Italian police, the three were caught red-handed on Tuesday selling in a shopping center in Rome. The officer reportedly received about 5,000 euros for the classified documents.
The Italian newspaper Corriere delle Sera writes that it concerned classified NATO documents as well as sensitive defense files. The police would have confiscated the money and documents. Authorities had been watching the naval officer for months.
The two employees of the Russian embassy are suspected of espionage and endangering national security. The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has summoned the Russian ambassador to the country. The Russian embassy did not want to respond to questions from journalists on Wednesday.
It is the first time that Russia has been caught trying to obtain Italian defense documents. Previously, the Russians mainly focused on the industrial sector.
NATO in action against Russian aircraft
Lately it has been bubbling more often between Russia and NATO countries. Last Tuesday, NATO planes had to take action several times against Russian planes near the airspace of affiliated countries. According to the transatlantic organization, this was an unusual peak in the number of Russian flights around NATO airspace.
Two Russian bombers that were possibly on their way to Dutch airspace also had to be intercepted by two NATO aircraft on Tuesday.