15:15 GMT20 April 2021
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Cooperation on the coronavirus vaccine can help bring about normalization of EU-Russian ties, which have been soured by the recent EU sanctions, Andrea Picchielli, a member of Italy's Lega party, told Sputnik on Wednesday.

    On Tuesday, the EU imposed sanctions against four Russian officials over their roles in Alexey Navalny’s arrest. A few hours later, the United States imposed sanctions on several Russian individuals and entities, too.

    "I consider that at the moment it isn't possible to turn back to normalization in EU-Russia relations till Russia won't feel anymore aggrieved and left out of key aspects of European security decisions. A way to try to have better relations could be the 'vaccine cooperation policy' between EU and Russia: it could be the first step in a sector so important at the moment, keeping out the competition," the  politician said.

    Picchielli recalled that Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed prospects of joint vaccine production in January, which, according to the Italian lawmaker, could be "an important step."

    "I hope that there won't be new additional economic sanctions against Russian Federation, as it is requested by Baltic countries and the voice of the countries that are calling for a more targeted approach, ruling out the economic sanctions, will be listened to," Picchielli said.

    Even before the sanctions were officially revealed, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the relations with the EU were at a low point. The EU's high representative for the foreign policy, Josep Borrell, said in early February during his Moscow visit, that the dialogue between the bloc and Moscow was at a "standstill."

    Meanwhile, the EU authorities, and particularly, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, have come under fire recently over slowdown in vaccination across the 27-nation bloc, as the manufacturers are scrambling to reorganize production to meet global demand.

    Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine has already been approved by over a dozen countries. In early February, peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet published an interim analysis from the phase 3 trial of the Russian vaccine, showing its 91.6 percent efficacy against symptomatic COVID-19.

    Russia, pandemic, health, Italy
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