Italy’s deputy prime minister says his country will oppose a renewal of European Union sanctions against Russia, but he suggested Rome is not ready to break with the rest of the EU and veto a rollover of the sanctions.
“I come here because I am convinced that sanctions are economic, social, and cultural madness,” Matteo Salvini said on a visit to Moscow on October 17. Salvini leads Italy’s far-right League party and is also Italy’s interior minister.
He criticized the basis of the sanctions, which were imposed on Moscow after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and backing for separatists in eastern Ukraine in a war against the government.
The EU’s dominant powers, Germany and France, and most other EU members have said the sanctions should stay in place until progress is made in ending that conflict.
Salvini charged that the EU is sanctioning Russia for “alleged violations against Ukraine,” while taking no action over Turkey’s occupation of northern Cyprus -“a European country”- since 1974.
“It is folly,” he said, vowing to “do his best” to bring an end to the Russian sanctions, or at least to resist attempts to make their renewal every six months automatic.
“If we are asked to confirm, we will say no. It’s clear that it makes no sense that they are in place,” he told a gathering of Italian businessmen in Moscow in a speech live-streamed on his Facebook account.
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