Renzi was able to get the post of “European Minister of Foreign Affairs” for Mrs Franceschini, overcoming the resistance of the Member States of Eastern Europe. These former Warsaw Pact members are worried about a too friendly relationship between Italy and Russia.
Even during the Cold War Italy, due to its huge Communist Party and its opaque politics, was suspected of being some sort of double agent.
Under Berlusconi, the personal friendship between the Cavaliere and the Russian Czar Putin paid some dividend, and Italy nearly managed to turn Russia into a NATO member.
Then came the Russian anti-gay laws, and the Ukraine crisis. Nobody today thinks seriously that Russia could became a Member State of NATO, and yet Italy still needs the Russian gas. The sanctions applied by the European Union to Russia, moreover, are unpopular in Italy, since they triggered Russian retaliatory measures against food exports.