Italian foreign minister to visit Kyiv and Moscow for crisis talks

AFP/The Local
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Italian foreign minister to visit Kyiv and Moscow for crisis talks
Italy's foreign minister Luigi Di Maio. Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio will fly to Kyiv on Tuesday ahead of a visit to Moscow for talks aimed at averting a Russian invasion, ministry sources said Monday.


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's office confirmed Di Maio was expected on Wednesday, AFP reports.

"We are determined to pass clear, unified, firm messages to Moscow... that discourage any aggression or escalation," Di Maio said at a meeting with Qatar's foreign minister earlier on Monday.

Italy is working "in close coordination with our European partners and allies, NATO and OSCE", he said, on stopping a crisis considered the worst threat to the continent's security since the Cold War.

Di Maio on Saturday issued a statement urging "all Italian citizens present in Ukraine to return home by commercial means and to postpone all trips" to the country.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has demanded a rollback of Western influence in eastern Europe and a ban on Ukraine joining NATO.


The United States has warned that Russia's forces are poised to attack Ukraine, and the western allies have prepared what they warn would be a crippling package of economic sanctions in response.

Putin recently stressed the importance of ties between Russia's energy industry and Italian businesses in an address to Italian business leaders.

"I would like to underscore that we consider Italy as one of the leading economic partners," Putin said, according to Reuters, noting that Italian energy companies were benefiting from long-term supply deals with Gazprom.

The online meeting with top Italian companies, including state-controlled energy firm Enel, went ahead despite a call from the Italian government for business executives not to attend amid rising tensions with Ukraine.

Energy is one of the main issues on the agenda for Europe as surging natural gas prices have inflated energy bills for businesses and households.

Russia supplies the European Union with around a third of its gas, with Italy particularly reliant on gas supplies.


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andrewworley048 2022/02/16 10:08
Russia has still not invaded Ukraine so we wait with bated breath for the next few hours.

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