Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has said Italy wants to strengthen its economic presence in Russia and expressed hope that relations between Moscow and the European Union will improve.
Speaking on June 17 at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, Renzi said the fulfillment of the Minsk peace agreement for eastern Ukraine is essential for lifting the sanctions against Russia.
He insisted that the terms of the deal "should be respected by everyone," adding that Ukraine should honor its end of the deal.
The EU, United States, and other countries imposed sanctions against Russia following Moscow’s annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in March 2014 and its backing for separatists in the country’s east.
After talks between Renzi and Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the forum, Russian and Italian companies signed a number of agreements worth more than 1.3 billion euros ($1.5 billion).