Italy loses billions in economic standoff with Russia, opposition leader says

Italy loses billions in economic standoff with Russia, opposition leader says
The EU sanctions imposed on Russia have already cost Italy alone two billion euro due to Moscow’s retaliatory food embargo, the leader of Italian opposition party Matteo Salvini says.

Western sanctions on Russia are a “great foolishness" and the EU agricultural sector has already lost five billion euro, said European Parliament deputy and the leader of the Northern League opposition party Matteo Salvini.

He added that Brussels is only ready to provide 200 million in compensation.

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Farmers from many EU states have complained they are bearing the brunt of Russia’s food embargo, having lost access to Russia’s $16 billion food market – about 10 percent of total exports, according to Eurostat.

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Italy has been the most outspoken about the consequences of Russia’s ban on certain European food imports, with the country’s Veneto region claiming last week they would take all the necessary steps to protest EU sanctions against Russia. Veneto ranks the second among Italy’s regions in agricultural production, accounting for 160,000 agricultural firms with a total turnover of six billion euro per year.

Matteo Salvini has previously opposed the sanctions against Russia, saying that if Italy dropped the sanctions, the country could return to its previously privileged relationship with Russia.

“I want to be optimistic. I believe some European governments will take the right side and prevent new sanctions,”
the politician said.

The opposition leader is now visiting Crimea to discuss the prospect of Russian-Italian economic, cultural and tourism co-operation.

“If an Italian television viewer arrived here, he would be surprised to see no tanks and no armed soldiers,"
he told the reporters before meeting Crimea's leaders.