Italy’s foreign minister to visit Moscow

Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio will visit Moscow today to meet with Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov and Minister of

russia italy

Photo: Kremlin.ru

Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio will visit Moscow today to meet with Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov and Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov.

Di Maio and Manturov co-chair the Russian-Italian Council on Economic, Industrial and Financial Cooperation. Today’s meetings will cover joint economic relations as well as geopolitics in Libya, which has been wracked by civil war since 2014. The two major factions are the UN-recognised, Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), which is backed by Turkey and Italy, and General Khalifa Haftar’s self-declared Libyan National Army (LNA), which is based in Benghazi and has support from Russia, France, and Egypt.

Russian interests in Libya have only increased following the latter’s political instability. Investments in infrastructure projects—as well as a desire to improve relations with neighbouring Egypt—have characterised Russian foreign policy in North Africa as Moscow attempts to strengthen its Mediterranean position. Meanwhile, Italy’s proximity to Libya and hesitant support of the GNA have created an unreliable and inconsistent national impression that Russia will seek to exploit. Expect Moscow to articulate its stance and offer itself as an alternative economic partner to Libya while expanding its air defence presence in the country to counter Turkey.

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