18:37 GMT27 February 2021
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    Europe should move towards greater integration with Russia instead of upholding restrictive measures that Brussels imposed on the country following Washington's lead, because this strategy has only brought Moscow closer to Beijing, Italian economist, entrepreneur and founder of Mandarin Capital Partners Alberto Forchielli told Sputnik.

    "I call for greater integration between Russia and Europe. I would like to see the European Union expand to include Russia among other countries. This is the only way to preserve anything," he said. "We are making a big mistake by pushing Russia towards China."

    He also said that Italians do not share concerns expressed by the Eastern European countries towards Russia. Some post-Soviet states in Europe, including Poland and the Baltic nations, have accused Moscow of being assertive, urging the United States and NATO to be more active on the bloc's eastern flank.

    "We have always been 'pro-Russian,'" he said. "Italians feel an incredible affection towards the Russian people."

    Visitors to the Russia Pavilion at the Expo Milano 2015 universal exhibition in Milan.
    © Sputnik / Vitaliy Belousov
    Visitors to the Russia Pavilion at the Expo Milano 2015 universal exhibition in Milan.

    The Italian business community has long advocated for the removal of anti-Russian sanctions since they have been detrimental to bilateral relations. The restrictive measures were imposed following Crimea's democratic and peaceful reunification with Russia and the outbreak of the Ukrainian civil war. They have prompted Russian entrepreneurs to foster closer ties with partners outside of Europe, primarily in China.

    Forchielli was concerned with China dynamically expanding its economic reach by buying Western companies in a bid to acquire new technologies.

    "Perhaps China could buy Comau, an Italian multinational company specializing in robotics. I am not sure whether they could be interested in STMicroelectronics, a French-Italian multinational electronics and semiconductor manufacturer," he said. "Italy produces automated equipment. But the Chinese do not appear to be interested in this since they have increased their capabilities in this area."

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    Tags:
    anti-Russian sanctions, integration, cooperation, European Union, Italy, China, Europe, Russia
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