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Putin meeting with Italy business elite to go ahead despite Ukraine -Breaking

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO – A logo for Enel, an Italian multinational energy company, is seen in Milan, Italy on February 5, 2020. REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo/File Photo

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Stephen Jewkes

MILAN, (Reuters) – Despite increasing tensions regarding Ukraine, a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin & the heads of several of Italy’s most important companies is expected to take place on Wednesday.

Originally scheduled for November 2011, the meeting will now be held via video link. It will feature high-ranking managers from firms such as power company. Enel Sources who saw the list said that UniCredit and MI: are both included.

One of the organizers confirmed the event, saying that Italy is the largest exporter to Russia.

As Western leaders prepare for any Russian military intervention against Ukraine, the meeting is a sign of their increasing readiness.

Both the United States of America and the European Union threatened economic sanctions in response to any Russian invasion. Western leaders insist that unity is key, but differences exist over how to best respond.

Mario Draghi (the Italian Prime Minister) has said that the EU does not have much leverage over Russia in Ukraine. He however stated previously that he needs to talk to Putin to reduce tensions.

This meeting, which was attended by 20-25 companies, took place on Wednesday by the Italy Russia chamber of commerce (CCIR), and the Italian-Russian Business Committee chaired Marco Tronchetti Provera of Pirelli tyres.

Vincenzo Trani, president of CCIR warned that anti-Russian rhetoric is a danger at the moment. We believe it’s crucial that Russia-Italy economic and business dialogue be encouraged.

The meeting will also include other Italian companies like Saipem Maire Tecnimont and Barilla (MI:), sources say. They add that many companies will be represented by their chairmanmen.

Eni Energy, an energy group, was listed on the list. But late on Tuesday, a spokesperson said that Eni “will not attend the meeting”.

In a period when rising energy prices have caused high bills for both households and businesses alike, the topic of energy is anticipated to top the agenda. Russia provides the EU approximately a third its natural gas.

Unrest between Russia and Ukraine could lead to higher energy costs in many other countries.

Russia was fifth in terms of trading partners with Italy in 2020. The commerce between Italy and Russia grew by 44% over the previous year in the first nine months.

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