20:08 GMT +314 December 2019
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    Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi (C) visit the Russia pavilion at the Expo 2015 global fair in Milan, northern Italy, June 10, 2015

    Putin's Visit to Italy Gives Worried Obama Food for Thought

    © REUTERS / Alexei Nikolsky/RIA Novosti/Kremlin
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    The Obama administration followed this week's visit of the Russian president to Italy with considerable concern, Italian media reported.

    "Barack Obama closely monitored Putin's visit to Italy and the attempts of the Russian president to reduce pressure on Moscow at least from the European Union," Ansa news agency said.

    Putin's visit came after the G7 summit in Germany and ahead of the European Council summit set to focus among other things on the anti-Russian sanctions. The EU leaders will meet later this month, on June 25-26, in Brussels.

    "If no major surprises occur, the European Union will extend sanctions imposed on Moscow," the Italian news agency noted, referring to the restrictive measures Western countries imposed on Russia last year.

    The West accuses Moscow of flaring the flames of the ongoing Ukrainian conflict, which left more than 6,000 people killed, 15,000 wounded and 1.2 million internally displaced. The Kremlin has always denied these groundless claims instead pushing for peace in the war-torn nation.

    While in Milan, Vladimir Putin emphasized that anti-Russian sanctions hurt cooperation between Russia and Italy, adding that Italian companies received 1 billion euros less than they could have due to sanctions.

    The sanctions are "an obstacle" to Italian firms, which "do not want a reduction in trade," Putin said, as quoted by Ansa.

    The Russian president met with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in Italy's financial hub and toured Russia's pavilion at Milan Expo-2015 on Wednesday.

    During his brief stay in Italy Putin also met with Pope Francis, Italian President Sergio Mattarella and former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who pledged to fight sanctions imposed on Moscow.

    Related:

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    Tags:
    anti-Russian sanctions, politics, Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin, Italy, Russia, United States
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