Australian authorities withdrew permission to build a new building for the Russian embassy in the capital city of Canberra due to prolonged construction works. The media have expressed concern that the Kremlin intended to use the location of the new building to conduct espionage activities.
Australian government agency National Capital Authority (NCA) has disbanded with Russia a lease agreement for an attractive building plot near the seat of the Australian Parliament in Canberra, on the grounds that no work has been carried out there for a long time. Russia has been renting a plot of land since 2008 and, although preliminary work has begun, it has not been carried out for many years.
“The ongoing, unfinished work distracts attention from the overall aesthetics, importance and dignity of the area reserved for diplomatic missions and foreign representations in the country’s capital,” said agency director Sally Barnes, quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald.
Russia will be able to submit a new lease application for the plot, but it has now been given 20 days to vacate it, the newspaper reported.
Australian authorities denied that the decision was related to the Russian invasion Ukraine – Sky News broadcast.
Media: Putin has missed an opportunity
According to Australian media, the delays in construction may have been due to financial issues, but there were also concerns in Canberra that the Kremlin intended to use the location of the new embassy building for espionage activities. The Australian daily stressed that the NCA’s decision “deprives the government.” Vladimir Putin opportunity to build a modern facility with greater espionage potential “.
The Russians wanted to bring in subcontractors from Russia to oversee the construction works, but the Australian authorities did not allow them to enter Australia because of suspicions that they were officers of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), the newspaper reported.
Main photo source: EPA / MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV