The Italian region of Veneto is ready to discuss the possibility of recognizing Crimea as part of the Russian Federation. In addition, the Italian regional legislature is preparing to adopt a resolution demanding the lifting of anti-Russian sanctions. The vote on both issues will take place on May 18th.
Today Veneto is ruled by a right-centrist coalition headed by Lega Nord. The largest Italian regionalist movement stands in favor of normalizing relations with Russia and lifting anti-Russian sanctions. The leader of Lega Nord, Matteo Salvini, was the first major Italian politician to visit Crimea after the referendum in 2014.
On May 31st, 2015, local elections in Venice took place. The coalition of Venice’s President, Luca Zaia (including Lega Nord, Zaia list, Forza Italia, Indipendenza noi Veneto, and Brothers of Italy) managed to get 28 out of the 48 seats in parliament. The main slogans of their campaign were abolishing anti-Russian sanctions and establishing solid relations between the region and Russia.
Most likely, on Wednesday Venice will become the first European region to officially express that it is against the anti-Russian sanctions and will recognize Russian Crimea. In response, the Russian Federation could opt for weakening its own counter-sanctions against the region’s businesses. In addition, this decision will have an impact on the overall position of Italy on the issue of sanctions against Russia at the June EU summit.