Russian President Vladimir Putin is visiting Italy to meet with Italian officials and Pope Francis in a symbolic show of statesmanship after his latest snub by the Group of Seven advanced democracies, which reaffirmed sanctions over Moscow's actions in Ukraine.

Putin meets Wednesday with Premier Matteo Renzi in Milan before heading to Rome for an audience with Pope Francis, who has declined to join the West in condemning Moscow for its actions in Ukraine in an apparent bid to not upset relations with the Orthodox Church.

The trip, which includes a visit to Russia's pavilion at the Expo world's fair in Milan, is significant for Putin after the G-7 this week made clear that any lifting of sanctions against Russia depends on Moscow fully implementing the Ukraine peace accord.