World

Italian PM visits Moscow, set to discuss Russia-EU ties and Ukrainian crisis

  • Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, right, is about to shake hands with visiting Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, March 5, 2015. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

    Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, right, is about to shake hands with visiting Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, March 5, 2015. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)  (The Associated Press)

  • Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi walks to pay his respects at the place where Boris Nemtsov, a charismatic Russian opposition leader and sharp critic of President Vladimir Putin, was gunned down on Feb. 27, near the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, March 5, 2015. The Kremlin Wall and St. Basil's Cathedral are seen in the background. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

    Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi walks to pay his respects at the place where Boris Nemtsov, a charismatic Russian opposition leader and sharp critic of President Vladimir Putin, was gunned down on Feb. 27, near the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, March 5, 2015. The Kremlin Wall and St. Basil's Cathedral are seen in the background. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)  (The Associated Press)

  • Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi pay respects at the place where Boris Nemtsov, a charismatic Russian opposition leader and sharp critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was gunned down on Friday, Feb. 27, 2015 near the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, March 5, 2015. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

    Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi pay respects at the place where Boris Nemtsov, a charismatic Russian opposition leader and sharp critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was gunned down on Friday, Feb. 27, 2015 near the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, March 5, 2015. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)  (The Associated Press)

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is visiting Moscow for talks focusing on Russia-EU ties, which have been badly strained by the Ukrainian crisis.

Renzi told Russian President Vladimir Putin at the start of their talks Thursday that he would like to discuss Russia's relations with the European Union along with other issues, including violence in Libya.

Putin hailed an "active political dialogue" with Italy, and said that bilateral economic ties remained strong despite the damage inflicted by the EU sanctions over Ukraine.

Prior to the talks, Renzi laid flowers at the place where prominent Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was shot dead on Friday night on a bridge near the Kremlin. Kremlin critics blamed the government, while Putin called the killing a provocation aimed at destabilizing Russia.