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Italian companies meet President Putin despite opposition from Rome

Italian companies meet President Putin despite opposition from Rome

The virtual meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday gave the Italian business an opportunity to strengthen the ties between the two countries. 

Despite the Italy’s government asked the local firms not to go ahead with Putin, the morning discussion took place. During an online meeting, the Russian leader noted he saw Italy as a key business partner.

Commenting on the virtual event, an Italian official said, “The meeting is a private initiative and there is no government involvement in it”.  According to Reuters, Vladimir Putin told the businessmen from Italy that Russia was a reliable energy supplier, and Rome was able to buy gas from state-backed Gazprom at lower prices thanks to long-term deals.

The West has threatened to hit Russia with heavy sanctions if an attack o Ukraine does happen. Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi said Europe’s business relations with Russia make strong sanctions difficult. Italy also opposed EU sanctions on Russia following its 2014 annexation of the Crimea.

Mr Draghi said last month that “the EU needs to keep engaging with President Putin”. Meantime, roatia’s President Zoran Milanovic caused controversy when he said Croatian troops would be withdrawn from Alliance’s Eastern Europe deployments if tensions increased.

Commenting on the presidential’s announcement, Croatia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Gordan Grlic Radman insisted “the president does not speak for Croatia, but for himself”.

“We are and will remain a loyal member of NATO. Everything we do, we do in consultation with our partners,” he said and added in times like these, it is particularly important to show solidarity among partners, and Croatia will do so in the EU and in Nato.