High-ranking Brussels are reportedly deeply anxious about the outcome of leadership negotiations between the right-wing Lega and anti-establishment Five Star Movement who are locked in talks following the March 4 election which ended in a hung parliament.
If Five Star manage to agree a compromise with Lega Brussels could see a major EU country lobbying for pro-Russian measures in the EU Parliament.
The two parties have similar views not only on the EU, which they believe is too intrusive in the Italian politics and crippled the country’s economy with its austerity measures, but also on Russia.
Both the Five Star and Lega’s electoral programmes vowed to work towards a normalisation of relations between Italy and Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, supported by the Kremlin, and asked to put an end to sanctions against Moscow following the annexation of Crimea.
The parties also proposed a referendum that would ask Italians whether they want to ditch the Euro and oppose to NATO exercises on Italian soil.
Russia has been actively working to tighten his links with populist parties across Europe, and didn’t fail to find allies in Italy.
Matteo Salvini, leader of Lega, signed a co-operation deal with President Vladimir Putin’s ruling party United Russia in March last year.
Details of what the deal entailed have never been released, but deputy Duma Speaker Serghei Zheleznyak publicly hailed his country’s relationship with Mr Salvini.
He said: “We can’t hide that we share the same ideas of parties that bring forward a responsible national politics and that are ready for a dialogue while respecting each other’s national interests.”
He later added: “We keep in regular touch with our partners from Lega and we exchange opinions on problems that worry our citizens.
“We organise meetings, consultations and there have been trips to Russia.”
Indeed Mr Salvini didn’t hide his party’s presence in Russia and even protested again former Italian centre-left wing PM Matteo Renzi in the Red Square.
And a senior Lega member, Claudio D’Amico, travelled to Crimea to monitor the referendum that followed Russia’s annexation of the peninsula.
Following the Five Star’s rise in the last five years, Mr Zheleznyak said that Russia was ready to sign an agreement also with Luigi Di Maio’s party.