VIENNA, November 9. /TASS/. Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl has canceled her visit to Russia and summoned diplomats from the Russian embassy to clarify the situation concerning a retired Austrian colonel’s suspected involvement in espionage for Russia, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said at an emergency press conference in Vienna on Friday.
"The foreign minister has responded to this, she has summoned Russian diplomats to the Foreign Ministry and also canceled her visit to Russia," Kurz said.
The Austrian top diplomat planned to make a visit to Russia on December 2-3 in order to discuss the implementation of plans to create a Russian-Austrian public platform dubbed the Sochi Dialogue. According to a TASS correspondent, initially Kneissl was expected to visit Russia on November 9 but the visit was postponed at Vienna’s request.
According to media reports, Austria has opened an investigation into a 70-year-old retired colonel, suspected of working for Russian intelligence agencies since the 1990s, providing Moscow with information about Austria’s air force, artillery and the migration crisis. If found guilty, the colonel may face two years in prison. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Defense Minister Mario Kunasek have confirmed the espionage investigation.
The Russian embassy in Austria has not yet commented on the situation.