Mission accomplished, culminating with a meeting at the Kremlin with President Vladimir Putin. Abroad on her first journey for the Italian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, holding talks in Kiev and then in Moscow, Minister Federica Mogherini garnered those countries’ leaders’ agreement with the message of Italy and the EU: that the launch of a process leading to a solution to the Ukraine crisis hinged on an “immediate and unconditional bilateral ceasefire”. After an hour and a quarter meeting at the Kremlin with President Putin, Mogherini announced Russia’s complete willingness to work on such a ceasefire in Ukraine. The minister carried the salutations of Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and Premier Matteo Renzi. She also announced that she would speak again with the Kiev authorities because application of the Berlin accord on the Ukraine crisis was a “difficult task”, but that both sides were willing to seek a “positive point of departure”.
Relations with the European Union
Minister Mogherini’s Kremlin meeting was preceded by one with her Russian colleague Sergei Lavrov. Topics of discussion in both meetings included relations between Russia and the European Union and the role that Italy can play in the context of the EU Presidency. Putin expressed Moscow’s hope that the Italian EU Presidency would be an opportunity to bring Moscow’s relations with Europe back to the level of those it has with Italy. In an earlier press conference held jointly by Mogherini and Lavrov, the Russian minister expressed the hope that the Italian EU Presidency would contribute to eliminating the barriers between the EU and Russia.