The newly appointed Russian ambassador to the Vatican, Ivan Soltanovsky, is a Russian intelligence officer, the Lithuanian publication LRT reported. Previously, the man worked as a deputy ambassador of the Russian Federation to NATO. However, in the North Atlantic Alliance, the Russian performed not only diplomatic duties, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Linas Linkevičius says.
“According to the NATO security service, among them were those people who work undercover,” Linkevičius, then the head of the Lithuanian delegation to NATO, said.
Soltanovsky’s career in the Alliance ended with the first wave of expulsion of Russian spies who worked under diplomatic cover, the journalists write.
“Some were directly told to leave Brussels because the NATO headquarters is located there, while others were quietly offered to leave, I think the above-mentioned Ivan Soltanovskyi was among them,” Linkevičius said.
Later, despite the unspoken rule not to accept diplomats expelled from NATO in any member country of the union, the Russian was appointed as the permanent representative of Russia at the Council of Europe. Last year, in November, Soltanovsky was dismissed from his post.
“He was well known in NATO and other countries, it would be difficult not to know the specifics of his career,” Linkevičius said.
Russia was expelled from the Council of Europe last March after a large-scale invasion of Ukraine. Soltanovsky’s career continued in the Vatican. Lithuania’s security department says it has no information about the Russian. Still, it points out that over the past few years, Europe has sent more than 400 Russian spies working under diplomatic cover.
The Vatican is “a center of power; it has influence all over the world,” so “you should not think that the Vatican only holds masses and talks about spiritual matters and has no influence on diplomatic processes,” the former Lithuanian minister said. That is why Russia appointed a person from whom a lot is expected. Such personnel policy is a sign for the West, the journalists concluded.
Cover: CNS photo/Vatican Media