MOSCOW – In the fairytale setting of the Foreign Minister’s residence in Moscow, Sergei Lavrov’s words sound hard as rock: “Until we have access to the facts” about the poisoning of Alexei Navalnyj, “we cannot take all the sermons and statements seriously “of the West,” we, like no one else, are interested in discovering the truth and we hope that our Western colleagues, and in particular the Germans, do not want to escape from international obligations “.
Luigi Di Maio began his speech by talking about the solidity of bilateral relations with Russia, which Italy intends to strengthen. Of the need for Moscow to mediate with Lukashenko’s Belarus, whose regime has returned to condemn by threatening sanctions, in line with Europe. But it is when he speaks of Aleksei Navalnyj, of the need to get to the truth about his poisoning, of the violation of international law on chemical weapons, that “my colleague Sergej” – as the Italian Foreign Minister defines him, after having called “friend” Russian Industry Minister Denis Manturov – stops, takes out a slip of paper from the inside pocket of his flawless jacket, and takes notes with a black fountain pen.
He will not even look at them when he resumes speaking, returning to the point: The poisoning of Navalnyj is a “disturbing fact that has greatly affected Italian public opinion” as well as being “a serious violation in terms of chemical weapons and fundamental human rights. , it is a story that cannot remain without consequences “.
“We hear from the partners – Lavrov replies – that the most important thing is to ascertain the facts but the problem is that the facts are known and verified”, while the West does not share the information it has. Borrell explained to me that before making a decision the EU will analyze the facts. We want these to be made known not only to EU countries but also to countries accused of poisoning the dissident “. And then he warns that the moves of the European Union, which has decided to impose sanctions on Moscow, will not be able to remain”. without consequences “. The accusation is clear:” Europe, in abandoning diplomacy and replacing it with sanctions, has not only taken the example of the US but is also influenced by it, in the sense that Washington is exerting pressure in this sense. “
The meeting with Vladimir Putin’s foreign minister – one of the last representatives of the former Russian communist elite, highly cultured, skilled, with diplomatic wisdom recognized everywhere – lasted less than expected due to a program whose timing was too tight for its vastness of Moscow and of Italian interests in Russia. But there is a lunch, which Di Maio must at least begin: “Calm, calm, Luigi, whenever you want”. Lavrov leads the way and seats the delegation for half an hour: time for a soup and some shrimp. Then, we leave for Italy.