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Lavrov gets ‘unpleasant surprise’ from no inquiries by Vienna on ex-Austrian colonel 'spy'

November 09, 2018, 13:38 UTC+3

A retired officer from the Austrian army had been reportedly spying against his country's military and transferring documents to Russia since the 1990s

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© Alexander Shcherbak/TASS

MOSCOW, November 9. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said it was an unpleasant surprise for him to get no request at all from Vienna for any explanations over the affair of a retired Austrian army colonel who had allegedly spied for Russia.

"This was an unpleasant surprise to me. It has been a custom from time immemorial for any country that feels some concerns or suspicions over actions by another country to ask for explanations directly in accordance with the rules of international communication. Lately, our Western counterparts have made it a rule not to use traditional methods but rather megaphone diplomacy.They accuse us in public and then demand public explanations over an issue we know nothing about," Lavrov said.

"It is essential to follow the rules that have been shaped in the process of international communication. We have invited Austria’s ambassador to the Foreign Ministry. We will draw his attention to what methods should be used, if they have any questions for Russia," Lavrov specified.

Vienna is investigating a 70-year old retired colonel, who since the end of 1990s had allegedly passed information about the migration crisis, Austrian military aviation and artillery systems to Russian intelligence. The Austrian prosecutor’s office has opened a criminal case against the former military officer on the suspicion that he had worked for a foreign military intelligence agency. The suspect may face a prison term of two years. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Defense Minister Mario Kunasek have confirmed that a former Austrian colonel is being investigated on suspicion of spying for Moscow.

Kurz earlier said that Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl had canceled her visit to Russia and summoned representatives of the Russian Embassy in Vienna.

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