US diplomats have been lobbying Italy to continue supporting the European Union’s sanctions on Russia, according to two diplomatic sources.
US pressure has so far been crucial to convince Italy’s pro-Kremlin government, a coalition between the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and the nationalist League, to keep backing the sanctions despite its stated opposition to the measures, said one of the diplomats.
Italy has been one of the more problematic EU states regarding Russia, partly due to ambivalent historic ties between the two countries stretching back to the Cold War. More recently, former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and Russian President Vladimir Putin established a close relationship, while previous center-left governments reluctantly supported sanctions.
The Five Star Movement and the League have said on a number of occasions that they want to see the measures against Russia lifted.
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