May 28, 2022 07:35 UTC

On Friday, two-time prime minister of Italy and former president of the European Union Romano Prodi had his say on the Ukraine crisis and subsequent geopolitical developments during a meeting with journalists held at the International Press Association headquarters in Rome.

Known for having oversaw an extensive privatization of Italy's public assets and for his lack of ostentation, Prodi is today a retired politician. He expressed serious concerns at how the sanctions imposed against Russia over the conflict in Ukraine will reverberate through the European Union with the risk of creating divisions among the members of the bloc.

Italy and Germany are the countries which have relied on Russian energy the most over the past 20 years. Rome has been trying to diversify its energy sources but it will take at least 2-3 years before it achieves a total replacement of Russian gas.

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, Rome has been trying to wean itself off Russian gas, which currently accounts for over 40% of total gas imports. However, according to the national bureau of statistics ISTAT, Italy's imports from Russia rose around 120% in value in April while Italian exports to Russia showed an annual fall of almost 50%. Due to soaring energy prices Italian inflation surged to 7% in March, the highest rate ever recorded in three decades.

Earlier this week, Moscow dismissed a plan for peace in Ukraine proposed by Italy. Also Hungary has urged Brussels to call explicitly for a ceasefire in Ukraine. However, so far, some members of the Bloc and the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, have adopted a hawkish posture on Russia, never making any mention of peace talks.