Evarist Bartolo, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs and Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation pledged to work together to improve relations between the two countries and exchanged invitations for visits by high level government officials to further strengthen cooperation between Malta and the Russian Federation.
The relations between the two countries were the subject of a telephone conversation earlier this morning.
Minister Lavrov, one of the longest serving Foreign Ministers in the world, welcomed the exchange during which a number of issues were discussed.
Minister Bartolo stressed the importance of the neutrality of Malta. Malta wants to have good economic and cultural relations with as many nations as possible in the world.
Relations between Malta and Russia, in the past years were put under strain due to several alleged interferences from Russia and also the fuelling of Russian ships.
In May 2017 then Prime Minister Joseph Muscat aid that he was informed by two allied security services that the Egrant whistleblower story was invented to pay him back for not allowing a Russian ship to enter Malta for refuelling on its way to Syria.
He said that Malta had received such information from two allied intelligence agencies.
Dr Muscat was asked a question by MaltaToday, who quoted an article by a website called intelligence online, which read that “MI6 and the CIA are highly concerned by what the Russian couple has been up to in Malta. Some officials perceive it as a move to destabilise Malta’s pro-western Prime Minister comes from the Kremlin especially because it occurred at a time when Muscat was openly opposed to Moscow.”
In the run-up to the election of 2017, then Prime Minsiter Joseph Muscat had said that the Maltese security services had received both “generic and specific” information on possible Russian retribution over decisions taken by Malta, Joseph Muscat said.
However, the Prime Minister insisted he would not speculate when asked by journalists whether he personally believed the revelation that the Egrant story was a concoction of the Russian secret service.
“Yesterday I was asked a specific question by a journalist on a story that was published in an intelligence publication and I confirmed that we had been alerted by foreign agencies of possible Russian retribution… I believe that we were alerted and will not speculate further,” Dr Muscat said this morning in Buskett.
In August 2019, Darren Debono, the suspected Maltese fuel smuggler currently facing charges in an Italian court in Catania, has alleged in court that officials from the United States embassy asked him for information about Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and his chief of staff Keith Schembri, in exchange for them lifting sanctions against him. Debono’s lawyer Victor Bugeja claimed in court on Wednesday that US embassy officials told Debono they wanted information on the provision of fuel to Russian ships, in order to lift sanctions against Debono and his businesses. It was alleged that Debono was asked to confirm by US officials whether two Russian ships which were not allowed to refuel in Malta were taken outside territorial waters refueled by him. He also said that the officials wanted information about Muscat and Schemb
CD eNews / Government of Malta