Italy Challenges the EU’s Russia Policy

Rome wants concessions from Brussels, and it’s strong enough to get them.

Image Credit: VASILY MAXIMOV/AFP/Getty Images

Nora T. Kalinskij |July 20, 2018

Migration policy, trans-Atlantic trade tensions, economic and political reform – it’s no secret that the European Union is divided on many issues. One of the bloc’s last bastions of consensus has been its sanctions on Russia, enacted in the wake of Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine and tightened since then. To be sure, the consensus has been threatened, but to date, no challenger had been strong enough to break the united front. Italy is that challenger.

Matteo Salvini, Italy’s deputy prime minister and interior minister, has made quite a name for himself since assuming his position at the start of June. Last weekend, Salvini was in Moscow, where he declared during a press conference that his government could veto a renewal of EU sanctions against Russia when they are up for review in January 2019. The sanctions, which were just extended on July 5, must be reapproved every six months, and all it takes is one dissenter to cancel them.

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