"At the summit on June 28 and 29, Brussels will discuss sectoral sanctions against Russia. We believe that their extension should not be automatic. We need to act carefully; sanctions are a means, not a purpose. We will continue to pay great attention to supporting Russian civil society and our companies involved in commercial relations," Guiseppe Conte told parliament in a speech outlining Italy's position on various issues ahead of the Brussels meeting.
Italian Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Eurosceptic Lega Party Matteo Salvini earlier noted that the extension of EU sanctions against Russia had been made in a rush and before Italy could form a stance on the matter. He, however, did not answer the question on whether Rome would veto the next renewal of the restrictions.
Earlier in June, Italian Defense Minister Elisabetta Trenta noted that Italy could become "a bridge" in relations between East and West, emphasizing that NATO policies should be more flexible and focus on different regions, in particular, the Mediterranean.
The EU's sanctions policy on Russia includes three independent tracks: visa restrictions against Russian citizens, economic sector sanctions against a number of Russian state-owned oil, defense and financial sectors, as well as restrictive measures against the Crimea. All these packages were introduced in 2014 and with the non-Crimea sanctions extended twice a year and the Crimea sanctions once a year.