Putin to visit Italy on Wednesday seeking dialogue

(AGI) Rome, June 9 - Following the G7 Summit in the BavarianAlps and its echoes of the Cold War with Barack Obama and the

(AGI) Rome, June 9 - Following the G7 Summit in the BavarianAlps and its echoes of the Cold War with Barack Obama and theleaders of the G7 countries warning Russia of the possibilityof further sanctions, Vladimir Putin will be in Italy onWednesday to visit Milan and Rome in an attempt to break hisinternational isolation. The Russian president will beaccompanied by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi to Milan Expo, wherehe will visit the Russian pavilion and inaugurate the daydedicated to his country. In the afternoon he will travel toRome, where he will be received at the Quirinale palace byPresident Sergio Mattarella, and then to the Vatican for anaudience with Pope Francis, which will also address theUkrainian crisis. The Holy See wants to avoid any widening of the riftbetween Moscow and the West, at a time when Russia may providea crucial contribution in the fight against radical andfundamentalist fringes in the Middle East. The pontiff mayraise the issue of the activities of the Uniates in Ukraine,the Greek Catholics who are loyal to the Pope but practise theOrthodox rite. The meeting in Milan between Renzi and Putin is the secondthis year after the visit of the Italian prime minister toMoscow on Mar. 5. President Putin will also see his "friend"Silvio Berlusconi on Wednesday evening, the Kremlin announced,just as he previously did last October on the sidelines of theASEM summit in Milan. The visit to Italy comes after the quarrel between the U.S.and Russia around the G7 Summit, with Barack Obama verballyattacking the Russian leader: "Does he continue to wreck hiscountry's economy and continue Russia's isolation in pursuit ofa wrong-headed desire to recreate the glories of the Sovietempire? Or does he recognise that Russia's greatness does notdepend on violating the territorial integrity and sovereigntyof other countries?" asked the US leader. "We reserve the rightto respond accordingly to all unfriendly U.S. initiatives",retorted Moscow. Claudio Descalzi, CEO of Italian oil and gas giant Eni,addressing a conference of the Italian Institute forInternational Political Studies (IPSI) in Milan, said that ifthe situation in Russia were to really become more extreme thanat present, then "we need alternatives for energy security". MrDescalzi then added that he did not believe that Italy could dowithout Russia from a commercial point of view "for the nextfive or six years". .