ROME, September 10 (RIA Novosti) – Italian businessmen operating on the Russian market say it would be counterproductive if cooperation between the two countries is lost due to Western sanctions, Russia's Ambassador to Italy Sergei Razov told RIA Novosti Friday.
"We have developed stable traditional ties over years of mutually beneficial cooperation. It would be counterproductive from all points of view to lose what has been achieved and to undermine mutual trust. An absolute majority of Italian businessmen working on the Russian market, which is hundreds of companies, share this perspective," Razov said.
"According to our statistical data, in the first eight months of the current year the volume of Russian-Italian trade decreased by 2.5 percent. So, in reality, nothing dramatic is going on. At the same time, at the end of the year the decrease could amount to several hundred million euros. And that, of course, is a matter of concern," Razov noted.
Italy remains Russia's fourth-largest trade partner, with the trade volume between the two countries having increased by 17 percent in 2013, reaching a record $54 billion, according to Razov.
The ambassador noted that at a recent forum organized by VTB Capital, a Russian investment company, head of Pirelli announced the Italian company was planning long-term cooperation with Russia's leading oil company Rosneft. Meanwhile two Italian banks, UniCredit and Intesa Sanpaolo, continue operating in Russia and have no plans of limiting their activity.
A number of Western states, including the EU countries, have introduced several rounds of economic sanctions against Russia over its alleged involvement in the Ukrainian crisis, claims that Moscow has repeatedly denied.
The restrictions target Russia's banking, oil and defense sectors and ban the provision of technical and other assistance to Russian companies in the field of oil exploration and production.
The European Union has barred three major Russian oil companies – Rosneft, Transneft and Gazprom Neft – from seeking finance on European capital markets.