Italian PM calls for Russia-Ukraine ceasefire in phone call with Putin
Published: Mar 31, 2022 08:21 AM
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said in a phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday that a ceasefire in the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine should be established "as soon as possible," according to a statement from Draghi's office.

The conversation "centered on the negotiations between Russia and Ukraine and the latest developments," said the statement.

Draghi "stressed the importance of establishing a ceasefire as soon and possible," and that Italy remained willing to "contribute to the peace process" if there were "clear signs" Russia would de-escalate the conflict, it said, adding the leaders agreed to remain in close contact.

Italy's statement said that Putin explained his country's plan to require Italy and other countries critical of Russia in the crisis to pay for Russian natural gas exports in rubles, the Russian currency. Traditionally, such payments are made in U.S. dollars or euros.

The statement did not say if Draghi agreed to the Russian plan, though on March 24 Draghi said that requiring payment for Russian gas in rubles was a violation of the gas supply contracts currently in force.

The point about natural gas payments is particularly relevant for Italy, which is heavily dependent on Russian gas imports in its energy mix.

In a parliamentary address earlier this month, Draghi said that Italy imports 95 percent of the natural gas it uses and that 40 percent of that total comes from Russia.