Report: Italy to propose ending ban on EBRD lending to Russia
MOSCOW, Jun 29 (PRIME) -- Italy will propose ending a ban on European development bank lending to Russia in a sign of the new government in RomeТs wish for closer ties with Moscow, the Financial Times reported late on Thursday citing diplomatic sources.
Giuseppe Conte, Italian prime minister, is to use a dinner of bloc leaders in Brussels on Thursday night to suggest resuming European Bank for Reconstruction and Development lending to small and medium sized businesses in Russia, E.U. diplomats said.
The move comes after Conte backed President Donald TrumpТs call this month for Russia to be readmitted to the G7.
Italy has always been hesitant over European sanctions on Russia but it has not previously suggested concrete measures to relax restrictions.
Both Five Star and the League, the coalition partners in Rome, have significant pro-Russian sympathies in foreign policy.
In 2014, EBRD shareholders Ч the majority of which by percentage are European Ч ordered it to stop new investments in Russia over MoscowТs annexation of Crimea. Russia had long been the bankТs biggest lending market.
The Italian proposal is likely to face opposition from some other E.U. member states who favor a tough line with Russia. More than half of the blocТs 28 countries Ч including Italy, under its former government Ч agreed in March to expel Russian diplomats in response to the poisoning in the U.K. of Sergei Skripal, a double agent, and his daughter Yulia. London blamed the attack on Moscow, which has denied the claim.