"[That is your] point of view… There was a referendum, and 90 percent of the people voted for the return of Crimea to the Russian Federation," Salvini said, when the reporter suggested to him that the referendum was "fake."
According to the transcript of the interview, published on Thursday, the Italian politician says that "some historically Russian zones with Russian culture and traditions" exist that "legitimately belong to the Russian Federation."
The Italian deputy prime minister added that he was in favor of lifting sanctions off Russia, as they "didn’t prove to be useful" and were detrimental to Italian exports.
Kiev does not recognize the results of the referendum that was held in Crimea in March 2014. A number of countries have introduced sanctions against Russia and Crimea over the reunification. Russian officials have repeatedly stressed that the vote took place in accordance with the international legal framework.