VIENNA, November 13. /TASS/. The situation with the Austrian ex-colonel accused of espionage will not have a big impact on the relations between Austria and Russia, Austria's President Alexander Van der Bellen said in an interview with ORF-2 TV channel.
"This will not affect our relations with the Russian government in the long run," Van der Bellen said.
The Austrian president said he met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Paris, but they did not discuss the espionage case. "Neither me nor him talked about this," Van der Bellen noted.
"On the one hand, espionage is unacceptable. On the other hand, we all know that secret services all over the world are trying to gather information, and not always by legal means. We will find out through the court what is known about this case, what kind of information was transferred, and how serious this whole matter is. We will probably find something out in the next weeks," the Austrian president said.
On November 9, the Austrian authorities said that they are investigating a 70-year-old retired army colonel who has allegedly transferred information on the migrant crisis, Austria's military aviation and artillery systems to Russia’s military intelligence since the late 1990s. The Austrian Public Prosecutor’s Office has initiated a criminal case against the retired colonel. If found guilty, he may face up to ten years behind bars.