Russian and Chinese influence in Italy: a UK report

LONDON – “External interference attempts and economic links play a role in influencing Italy’s political planning toward Moscow and Beijing.” This is the conclusion of “Russian and Chinese influence in Italy,” a study just published by the Royal United Services Institute (Russia), the oldest think tank on international security issues. They are the authors of it Raffaello Pantuccia security and terrorism expert from Russia, Ed Eleonora Tavoro AmbrosettiResearch fellow at the Institute for International Political Studies (Ispi). A little more than a month after the elections in our country, Italy’s position with regard to NATO and the European Union is at the center of the debate, with special attention being paid to the relations of various parties with NATO opponents, first with Russia in light of the invasion of Ukraine but also with China after the new tensions On Taiwan, the survey examines Italy’s political, cultural, historical, and economic relationships with the two powers involved in order to determine how far the potential influence of Moscow and Beijing goes. An interesting study of a key aspect of Italian foreign policy.

The report states that “Based on the information available, it is difficult to say that Rome’s choices are the result of external influences, and not Italy’s long-standing policy of adopting common ground in its relations: to maintain friendly relations with the United States and the European Union, but at the same time also with Moscow and Beijing. For interests of an economic nature, in this dualism “the Italian industrial class is in favor of keeping the door open to Russia and China,” Pantucci and Tavoro Ambrosetti note: a position that can also be found in the Italian political class, i.e., parties and propagandists act “more to internal political calculations than to external pressures.” “.

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The report notes that Italy, within the European Union, “has always been one of the main supporters of dialogue and cooperation with Russia and China,” noting that its traditional policy is subject to criticism in Europe. “If the influence of Moscow and Beijing is hard to prove,” the investigation nonetheless reflects a fact: Italy’s relative independence in pursuing dialogue with Russia and China. “Intervention attempts and economic ties play a role in influencing Italian political planning,” the researchers say. They warn that “even if the invasion of Ukraine had a significant impact on relations between Italy and Russia”, “it is difficult to predict how this will develop in the long term”.

The report concludes that Italy continues to maintain “great freedom of choice in its relations with Russia and China”. While it is clear that both powers had strong relations with Italy, and that they used Italy as a tool in their international relations, Rome seemed a willing partner to them. It is very difficult to assess the degree to which this is the result of outside influence or interference. Some individual cases are obvious. However, it is also clear that NATO remains a cornerstone of the Italian government’s strategic thinking, which means that Italy’s choices are unlikely to completely conflict with the Atlantic partners. At the same time, it is also highly unlikely that Italy will attempt to completely sever its relations with China and Russia, a decision that is more the result of national strategic thinking than of external influences and interventions. ”

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