Russia ready to increase gas supplies to Italy, ambassador says

MILAN, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin has told Italy that Russia is ready to increase its gas supplies to the country if needed, the Russian ambassador to Italy Sergey Razov said on Thursday.

Putin has also invited Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi to visit Moscow, Razov said, adding that Russia appreciated what he called Italy's "moderate position" regarding the crisis over Ukraine.

Speaking during a visit to Moscow, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said Italy welcomed the invitation.

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"We are coordinating dates for a meeting as soon as possible," Di Maio told reporters.

Ambassador Razov was speaking during a Russian-Italian business forum in Milan.

"With regards to gas, Russia is respecting its contractual obligations and is ready to provide additional quantities if they are required," he said.

Italy sources around 40% of its gas from Russia. State-controlled energy group Eni has strategic long-term gas contracts with Russia and agreements with oil group Rosneft (ROSN.MM) which are on hold.

Concern has mounted over the possible disruption of supplies from Russia, Europe's biggest gas provider, following the buildup of Russian troops near Ukraine and heightened tensions between Moscow and the West.

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Reporting by Giulio Piovaccari, writing by Giulia Segreti and Keith Weir, editing by Maria Pia Quaglia and Crispian Balmer

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