The Carabinieri, Italian military police, said the suspected spy in Italy’s navy was discovered after a long investigation led by AISI, Italy’s domestic intelligence bureau.
They detained an Italian Navy captain together with a Russian military official on suspicion of spying.
To start this narration we have to tell what Russia did last year to “help” Italy during the first covid Pandemic by the “From Russian with love“ operation.
The Russian army on 22 March 2020began flying medical help to Italy to help it battle the new coronavirus after receiving an order from President Vladimir Putin, a goodwill gesture that Moscow labelled “From Russia with Love”.
Giant Il-76 military planes began taking off from an airbase in the Moscow region after Putin spoke to Italian former Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and agreements were later reached between respective defence ministers.
The Kremlin said Putin had expressed his support for Italy’s leaders and people in the extremely difficult situation they were facing and had heeded an Italian request for help.
Italy is one of the countries within the European Union and NATO with the warmest relations with Russia. Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is a good friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Giuseppe Conte had expressed his sincere gratitude for the steps Russia had taking to support Italy at such a tough time for it,” the Kremlin said one year ago.
In order of this telling we have to explain the Russian “guide line”.
Russia has tried to cultivate close ties with NATO and European Union member Italy in recent years.
It asked Rome to help persuade the EU to lift sanctions imposed over Russia’s annexation of Ukraine from Crimea in 2014 – although those sanctions remain in place.
TV footage released by the Russian Defence Ministry showed a column of at least seven military vehicles, including large trucks, waiting to be loaded onto planes.
During this period in March 2020, was evidence for most Italians mass media “no control over the Russian military troops during the sanification operations in the territory of northern Italy”.
Many intelligence experts have wondered why such freedom was allowed…. Much concern was also received from American intelligence agencies.US administration has shown that it does not think this libertine behavior in NATO territory. An operation definitely that some here believed raised security fears given the large number of military officers sent in.
The Italian government chaired by Mr. Giuseppe Conte was very close to both China and Russia in 2020. A strategic mistake that has now been corrected by the new government of Mr. Mario Draghi, who strongly affirmed that his mandate will be in line with the themes of Europeanism and Atlanticism.
Italy today, The Italian Foreign Ministry later said it had summoned Russian Ambassador Sergey Razov over the case.
“Carabinieri, the Italian military police, intervened during a clandestine meeting between the two, caught immediately after the transfer of a document by the Italian officer in exchange for a sum of money,” the police force said in a statement on March 31.
Russia’s embassy in Rome confirmed that an employee of its military attache’s office had been detained, adding that “details of the case are being clarified.”
It also expressed hope that “the case will have no effect” on Russian-Italian relations.
Police said the meeting between the Italian frigate captain and the Russian official took place late the previous day.
Both are suspected of “serious crimes tied to spying and state security,” according to the statement.
It said the Italian officer was taken into custody, while “the position of the foreign national is still under consideration in relation to his diplomatic status.”
Relations between Russia and NATO member states have been hit by a number of spy scandals in recent years amid heightened tensions between Moscow and the West.
Bulgaria for example, an EU and NATO member like Italy, expelled two Russian diplomats last week after six people were arrested, including several defense ministry officials, on suspicion of spying for Russia. Italian fighter planes were involved in a NATO operation to intercept Russian planes over the Baltic Sea on Monday.
Earlier this month, relations between Moscow and Washington sank to a new low after U.S. President Joe Biden called the Russian president a “killer,” leading Putin to say: “It takes one to know one.”
Which consequence will have this spy story on the relationship between Italy and Russia?
To start Italian media are describing the incident as the most serious since the Cold War.
Immediately the UK stood in solidarity with Italy in “exposing and taking action against Russia’s malign and destabilising activity that is designed to undermine our NATO ally”
We have to remind the Draghi’s speech, during his assignment as Prime Minister, was very clear, Italy will always have an Atlantic and pro-European policy.
Last but not least, in line with the double-track line decided within the EU and NATO (firmness on principles and deterrence, accompanied by dialogue and engagement). Italy will support the need for an inclusive approach that encourages Russia to work together to find shared solutions to major global problems, but from today with an different point of view, the cold war is back in Rome, a great present from Russia for the Biden administration.
It’s self-evident that for a number of European countries Russia primarily represents a security concern – not one part of the problem, but the entire and only problem. Traditionally, observers attribute this view to the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, which have historical reasons of anxiety vis-à-vis Russia. In fact, the list is not fully exhausted by those countries, even though apprehensions elsewhere can be weaker and are not expressed too vocally like in Italy, but after today Rome will be more cold with Moscow in the middle term for sure.
As rightly emphasized by Russian scholar Vladimir Baranovsky, “among the challenges that Europe is facing in terms of organizing its own security space, the most serious one could be defined as alleviating concerns in and about Russia”
Finally, if NATO and the European Union are to remain value-based institutions – and there are no reasons to imagine otherwise – sooner or later they will have to think about how to bridge the value gap in relations with Russia.
The dilemma is easily solved, on a theoretical level, if the objectives are united within a single political framework. A good example of this approach can be found in the recommendations of the high-level expert group on NATO’s new strategic concept, which state that allies “should endorse a policy that combines reassurance for all alliance members and constructive re-engagement with Russia ”and that the goal of cooperation must be pursued “while also guarding against the possibility that Russia could decide to move in a more adversarial direction”