Sanctions eroded 25% of Russian-Italian trade in 2015 – Putin

Anti-Russian sanctions have taken a toll on both sides, said Russian President Vladimir Putin to Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, estimating the loss suffered by Italian arms manufacturers at €1 billion.

"For well-known reasons the trading volume [between Russia and Italy – Ed.] declined by one-tenth in 2014 and by one quarter in the first three months of 2015…Such a state of affairs, of course, cannot suit us - both the governments and business communities in both countries,” the Russian President told reporters after talks with Prime Minister Renzi in Milan on Wednesday.

Russia hopes to end the constraints sooner or later, he added.

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The Russian president stressed that the sanctions affected Russian-Italian military cooperation, even though it doesn’t seriously affect Russian defensive capabilities.

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“Honestly speaking, cooperation there is not so hot; it is not of vital importance for ensuring the Russian defense capability. But because we suspended some preplanned joint actions and contracts, Italian companies received €1 billion less they were due. They could have earned this money, could have had their enterprises' production capacities utilized, could have created or maintained jobs. But this did not happen because of the sanctions,” Putin said.

Sanctions pushed Russia to carry out a program of import substitution, which is in a certain way good for Russian industry and hi-tech, but, all in all, they [sanctions – Ed.] cause damage to the cooperation, he added.

There is no doubt Russia will find new partners, but we should not abandon well-established tools and mutually beneficial contracts, Putin said.

Speaking of Russia’s relationship with the G7, he wished it good luck, saying it had not become a political organization, but a club.

“We have no relations with G7, but if partners want, we will develop relations with any G7 country on a bilateral basis”, Putin said.

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Russia continues to work in wider formats like the G20 as well as BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the UN and its Security Council, he added.

Russia was expelled from the G8 last year over the reunification with Crimea.

Putin arrived in Italy for a short visit. The first item on the agenda was his visit to World Expo 2015 in Milan, where he opened the Day of Russia with Renzi.