Italy, despite the authorities’ statements on the harm the anti-Russian sanctions inflict, is rather dependent on the bloc discipline and the Euroatlantic solidarity, while also being constrained by its own problems, to dictate the conditions for lifting the EU’s restrictive measures, Russian Ambassador to Italy Sergey Razov said in an exclusive interview with TASS on Tuesday, ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Rome.
"The Italian partners are constantly saying that the sanctions are not an end in itself, but a means to implement the Minsk Agreements. They should not substitute the policy of constructive dialogue with Russia, the lack of which renders resolving international problems impossible. Rome stands against automatic extension of the sanction regime without discussions," the diplomat is quoted as saying by TASS.
"Speaking about the voting on the issue in the framework of the European structures, in the end the ideas of the bloc discipline and the Euroatlantic solidarity prevail, as well as the fact that Italy has its own, rather complicated agenda of the talks with Brussels (budget, migration, etc.). This firmly restricts freedom of action and statements," he continued.
Razov highlighted that "the harmful nature of the sanctions is clear for Italians." "I am not attempting to precisely assess the losses from the EU-introduced sanctions. In any case, regarding Italy, they are in billions of dollars and thousands of lost jobs. By way of comparison, in the pre-crisis 2013, the volume of Italian export to Russia was $14.5 billion, in 2016 it plummeted to $7.8 billion. And despite the fact that the last two years saw growth in Italian export and bilateral trade, it can only be characterized as recovery and is far from being record-breaking," the ambassador explained.
The US anti-Russian sanctions also pose additional challenges to the Italian business, which is interested in expanding their operations in Russia. The diplomat drew attention to the fact that the threat of imposing "sanctions for violating sanctions" is used by the US authorities against their own citizens and companies, as well as extraterritorially against companies and organizations from other countries, including the European ones.
According to him, the United States is robustly taking advantage of the high demand of the American financial system in international trade finance and of the close ties between many large European companies and the American market.
"The sanction waves coming from across the ocean, the threat of which they call here a "friendly fire" create an atmosphere of uncertainty and ambiguity regarding the prospects for cooperation with Russia, especially that of large-scale and long-term nature," Razov pointed out.