Italy reacted furiously on Saturday to the insults and threats by a senior Russian foreign ministry official attacking sanctions applied against Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine, describing it as “odious and unacceptable.”
Head of the Russian foreign ministry’s European department, Alexey Paramonov, had accused Italy of falling victim to anti-Russian hysteria. He made the accusation in comments to the Russian state-owned news agency.
“Italy has forgotten centuries-long relations and bilateral agreements in a second”, he said.
He said that he hoped the French finance minister Bruno Le Maire’s vow earlier this month to wage a total economic and financial war on Russia would not find followers in Italy and cause a series of appropriate irreversible consequences.
Le Maire subsequently walked back his comments, conceding they had been “inappropriate”.
Paramonov said that Russia had provided significant assistance to Italy during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, at the request of Italy’s defence minister Lorenzo Guerini.
“Guerini is now one of the main hawks and instigators of the anti-Russian campaign within the government in Rome,” he said.
Italy’s foreign ministry said that it firmly rejected the threatening statements from Moscow.
“Rome and its partners will continue to exert every pressure to stop the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” it added.
Italian Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, condemned the comparison between the invasion of Ukraine and the pandemic crisis in Italy as “particularly odious and unacceptable.”
Guerini said that Italy would not give weight to propaganda and continued to stand by Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was also set to address the Italian parliament on Tuesday.