Speaking at an Italian business conference in Milan earlier this week, Eichberg stated that Italy will not support the continuation of economic sanctions directed against Russia. "Italy has made it clear since February that the Council of Ministers will not vote for the extension of sanctions," the official noted.
Russian analysts have commented that the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry's protest seems to have come at rather an odd time, given that top Italian officials up to the ministerial level have been complaining about sanctions for several months now.
On Monday, Italian Minister of Economy and Finance Pier Carlo Padoan told reporters at a press conference that he "sincerely hope[s] that we will come to canceling [the] sanctions as soon as possible, and that economic partnership between Europe and Russia, as well as Italy and Russia will continue to grow."
Late last month, Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni told German media that the EU is too fixated on the Ukrainian crisis, for which it has blamed Russia, while ignoring other, equally important problems, adding that he has recommended that Prime Minister Matteo Renzi restore relations with Moscow, including the "partial lifting of sanctions."
Already teetering on the brink of crisis, Europe's economies have been dealt a heavy blow by sanctions and Russian countersanctions initiated last year over the Ukraine crisis.