Italy would support new EU sanctions against Russia, says Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio

Italy would support additional EU sanctions against Russia in response to the arrest of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said in an interview with POLITICO.

“We have clearly said that what happened with Navalny is unacceptable; we are ready to take new measures,” the minister said.

Italy tends to take a softly-softly approach to relations with Russia and at times has resisted provoking tensions with the Kremlin. But in the interview, Di Maio said the only hesitation now was to make sure any new punitive measures can withstand legal challenges.

“The important thing is that they are solid from a technical and legal point of view, because they must stand up to appeals in European courts, we have always said that in the face of any kind of sanction,” Di Maio said.

At the same time, Di Maio said the EU should note the risks of a widening breach between Moscow and the West. “Having said this, we must still be concerned when the gap between the European Union and Russia widens because it is still a neighbor we cannot ignore,” he said.

EU ambassadors discussed Navalny’s arrest at a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday. The opposition leader was detained Sunday immediately upon returning to Moscow from Germany where he spent months recuperating from an assassination attempt, in which he was poisoned with a military grade nerve agent.

During the ambassadors’ meeting, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia immediately urged other EU countries to impose sanctions against Russia should Navalny remain in jail.

The important thing is that they are solid from a technical and legal point of view, because they must stand up to appeals in European courts, we have always said that in the face of any kind of sanction. Having said this, we must still be concerned when the gap between the European Union and Russia widens because it is still a neighbour we cannot ignore.

Luigi Di Maio

A senior diplomat said “there was a substantial consensus” on imposing new sanctions, though some countries were more vocal than others. A second senior diplomat said there was no open opposition to new sanctions “Nobody said a clear no."

Image: ANSA/RICCARDO ANTIMIANI

Follow EU Today on Social media:

EUToday Correspondents

EUToday Correspondents

Our team of independent correspondents, based across Europe and beyond, are at the centre of geopolitical dynamics. We are united by our commitment to free and unbiased journalism, and our devotion to the concept of true and unfettered democracy. We take our job very seriously!

Related posts