The main themes that dominated the relationship between Italy and Russia in 2011 were the three “usual suspects”: bilateral trade, energy and European security. Italy’s position on the main issues regarding Russia’s relationship with the EU has been generally receptive to Moscow’s demands and eager to involve it as much as possible. This is a typical feature of Italian foreign policy towards Russia that has always favoured a cooperative approach towards Moscow. Certainly, the fact that Eni, Italy’s main energy company, is not only the main international customer of Gazprom, but has also agreed to develop significant cooperation projects with Russia’s giant gas monopoly, which cut through several phases of the oil and gas industry line, both upstream and downstream, certainly plays a role, but this does not account completely for Italy’s Russia policy. The idea lying behind Italy’s cooperative relationship with Moscow is that the big Eastern country is an essential factor in the equation of European security. However, this attitude has generally been limited to declarations, like the well-known Berlusconi plea that one day Russia would join the EU. Also, Italy has mainly attempted to favour the dialogue between Russia and the EU as a whole or the US, but has failed to put forward specific and concrete proposals, for example on issues having to do with the security in the portion of the former Soviet space, which is now a neighbourhood in common between Russia and the EU. Finally, this strong bilateral relationship is likely to continue even with the new Monti government in Italy that has replaced that of Berlusconi.
in EU-Russia Watch 2012, p. 71-76