Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will today conclude a two-day working visit to Rome, in a bid to strengthen Russo-Italian
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will today conclude a two-day working visit to Rome, in a bid to strengthen Russo-Italian relations ahead of a G20 summit in October.
The visit included talks with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio regarding the international and regional agenda. One topic of note is Italy’s reliance on Russian natural gas, which was similarly topical during German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin last week regarding the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
Italy is the second largest natural gas importer in Europe after Germany. Russian gas imports contribute to a large portion of Italy’s supply, which help fuel its power plants. As a result, Rome has called for the EU’s sanctions on Moscow to be relaxed, after they were imposed following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. Italy has historically been allied with the West, however its willingness to engage with Russia economically suggests a movement toward Russian cooperation. The Kremlin’s interests, on the other hand, are directed toward increasing the number of EU member states that rely on its natural gas imports. The economic leverage Russia is gaining in Europe may be used to reduce the likelihood of NATO expansion in Ukraine.
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