ROME – Italian Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has said he is working to restore good relations with Russia.
Salvini also said US President Donald Trump, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban are among the most respected contemporary politicians.
“I will work to return to good relations with Russia. Putin is a great president. And I say that because I think so, and not because I was paid, as some newspapers say,” said the politician in the city of Cervia.
In February, L’Espresso published an investigation alleging that Salvini and his representatives, during their October visit to Moscow, discussed the League’s funding with the Russians on the eve of the European elections. The party allegedly won 3 million euros, disguising the process with Russian diesel exports. Moscow, like Salvini, has refuted such claims.
Relations between Russia and the West deteriorated in 2014 in the light of the crisis in Ukraine and the reunification of Crimea with Russia.
The European Union imposed economic sanctions on Russia, which responded with an embargo on EU food products. In late June, the European Union officially extended its sanctions against Russia until January 31, 2020.
According to UN Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures Idriss Jazairy, the EU lost more in terms of income than Russia, which managed to mitigate losses from EU sanctions by boosting domestic production.
In March, Jazairy told Sputnik that he would impose sanctions that cost the Europeans the most, which was “crazy” for the Russians, and asked the sides to find other ways to overcome the contradictions.
However, Rome and Moscow enjoy friendly relations. Italy is Russia’s second largest trading partner in the EU, after Germany.
Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Rome in early July and met with Italian President Sergio Mattarella.
After the meeting, Putin hailed “an absolute consensus” among Italian political forces on the need to develop good relations with Russia.