Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks on Thursday, July 4th, with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in Rome.
In a press conference following the meeting, Putin expressed appreciation of Italy’s efforts to mend EU-Russia relations. Putin said that Russia had observed the Italian efforts to improve relations between the European Union and Moscow despite having limited room for manoeuvre due to various factors. He expressed the hope that Italy will help persuade the EU’s new leadership that sanctions against Russia have had the opposite of the desired effect and also help Moscow restore its fully-fledged relations with the EU, before they became strained following the imposition of sanctions.
"We hope that Italy will consistently and clearly speak out about its position (on improving ties) and battle for what was said in public many times, namely for the complete return to normal relations between Russia and Europe as a whole," he said.
In 2014, the EU ordered sanctions against Russia after the latter annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula and backed pro-Russian separatists fighting against Kiev’s forces in the eastern part of Ukraine.
Relations were even further strained after former Russian double agent, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter were poisoned in England in 2018. Britain called on its EU partners to impose sanctions against Moscow, which Britain has blamed for the incident.
Concerning the Libyan situation, Putin warned that it was deteriorating, adding that he was worried that militants were flowing from Idlib in Syria to Libya. He affirmed the Russian stance toward the Libyan issue, saying that Moscow wants the battling sides in the war-torn country to agree a ceasefire and hold talks in order to solve the country’s problems through a proper political process.