Italy stalls extension of sanctions against Russia

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Italian Premier Matteo Renzi (L) and Russian President Vladmir Putin. Mikhail Klimentyev/Ria Novosti/AFP
09:14 CET+01:00
Italy has stalled a decision by the EU to extend economic sanctions against Russia, requesting a “political debate” on the matter during a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday.

The sanctions, imposed last year over Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, were due to expire on December 31st and a six-month extension was set to be approved by the 28 EU member state ambassadors at the meeting.

The sanctions were last renewed in June.

The request from Italy came after the extension was backed by EU leaders, including Italian premier Matteo Renzi, at the G20 summit in Turkey in November.

The matter was taken off the agenda and may be deferred to a meeting of EU foreign ministers on Monday or an EU leaders summit on December 17th-18th, Ansa reported.

Italy’s request also came on the same day Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that his country was ready to support Italy as it strives to bring stability to war-torn Libya.

"I understand how important the problem of Libya is for Italy, for both geographical and historical reasons," Ansa quoted the minister as saying.

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Experts have warned that Isis extremists have been shifting to Libya as the world focuses on its traditional power bases in Iraq and Syria, taking advantage of the chaos as rival militias and governments battle for power.

Rome is hosting an international conference on Libya on Sunday, which is aimed at giving a "decisive push for the conclusion of a deal for a national government in Libya", Italy’s Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said last week.

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