Russia ready to increase gas supply to Italy, says ambassador

MILAN, Feb 17 (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has told Italy that Russia stands ready to increase gas supplies if needed, Russian Ambassador to Italy Sergei Razov said on Thursday.

Putin also invited Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi to visit Moscow, Razov said, adding that Russia appreciated what he called Italy’s “moderate stance” on the Ukraine crisis.

Speaking during a visit to Moscow, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said Italy welcomed the invitation.

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“We are coordinating dates for a meeting as soon as possible,” Di Maio told reporters.

Ambassador Razov was speaking at a Russian-Italian business forum in Milan.

“As far as gas is concerned, Russia is fulfilling its contractual obligations and is ready to supply additional quantities if needed,” he said.

Italy obtains around 40% of its gas from Russia. State-controlled energy group Eni has strategic long-term gas contracts with Russia and deals with oil group Rosneft that are on hold.

Concern has grown over the possibility of a disruption in supplies from Russia, Europe’s largest gas supplier, following the buildup of Russian troops near Ukraine and the intensification tensions between Moscow and the West.

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Reporting by Giulio Piovaccari, writing by Giulia Segreti and Keith Weir, editing by Maria Pia Quaglia and Crispian Balmer

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