Italy’s two-time Prime Minister Prodi expresses concern over Ukraine-Russia conflict
TV Press, Rome
On Friday, double Italian Prime Minister and former European Union President Romano Prodi had his say on the Ukraine crisis and subsequent geopolitical developments during a meeting with journalists held at the headquarters of the International Press Association in Rome.
Known for overseeing a vast privatization of Italian public assets and for his lack of ostentation, Prodi is now a retired politician. He expressed serious concerns about how the sanctions imposed on Russia over the conflict in Ukraine will reverberate in the European Union with the risk of creating divisions between members of the bloc.
“The fallout from the Ukraine crisis will hit the EU hard. Sanctions will cost Italy and Germany dearly and less for other EU countries,” Prodi said.
Italy and Germany are the countries that have relied the most on Russian energy over the past 20 years. Rome has tried to diversify its energy sources but it will take at least 2-3 years before achieving a total replacement of Russian gas.
Since the start of the war in Ukraine, Rome has been trying to wean itself off Russian gas, which currently accounts for more than 40% of total gas imports. However, according to the national statistics office ISTAT, Italian imports from Russia increased by around 120% in value in April, while Italian exports to Russia registered an annual decline of almost 50%.
“I have said many times that the impact of the sanctions will be completely asymmetrical. It goes without saying that the consequences for some countries like France or Spain will be softer,” Prodi told Press TV.
Due to soaring energy prices, Italian inflation soared to 7% in March, the highest rate on record in three decades.
Earlier this week, Moscow rejected a Ukraine peace plan proposed by Italy. Hungary has also urged Brussels to explicitly call for a ceasefire in Ukraine. However, so far some Bloc members and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen have taken a hawkish stance on Russia, never mentioning peace talks.