Speaking to reporters in the northwestern Italian city of Udine on March 19, Lega party leader Matteo Salvini described the economic sanctions against Russia as "insanity directed against a friendly and neighboring market," according to Ria Novosti.
"I want to work for peace, not war. I do not want to group the small tanks as if in the game 'Risk'. It is Islamic terrorism that poses a threat, but the small tanks target Russia for unknown reasons. Are you really afraid of being conquered by the Russian army?" Salvini asked.
Urging Italians to regain control of their own country, he stressed that "neither Berlin nor Paris nor Brussels should explain to us how to manage Italy."
"Yesterday Russians cast ballots and I have [already] sent my congratulations to President Putin," Salvini said.
Salvini, who has been at the helm of the Lega party since December 2013, became widely known in Europe and beyond mainly thanks to an active campaign against anti-Russian sanctions, as well as harsh criticism of the economic policies of the European Union and the single European currency.
He became the first Italian party leader to openly recognize Crimea's reunification with Russia in 2014.