Italy seeks compensation for EU firms hit by Russian sanctions

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani speaks during an interview with Reuters, in Rome

ROME (Reuters) - The Italian government is working with the European Union to ensure that the bloc's firms hit by Russian sanctions are compensated for the damage they have suffered, it said on Thursday.

Russia has placed the assets of a handful of Western companies under "temporary management" since the start of the war in Ukraine, justifying such moves as retaliation for actions by other countries against Russian businesses.

Last week, President Vladimir Putin placed the Russian subsidiaries of Italy's water heating company Ariston and Germany appliance maker BSH Hausgeraete under temporary management of JSC Gazprom Household Systems.

The EU has criticised Russia, saying its actions against the Italian and German companies underscored Moscow's disregard for international law.

Italy's Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani has summoned the Russian ambassador to Rome and said he had discussed the case with EU partners.

"We have also been active on the EU front, because the whole issue of sanctions can only be addressed in the European context," Tajani said on Thursday during an online meeting with business associations and Italian companies active in Russia.

"We are working to find a solution to compensate the damage suffered by companies that are affected by Russian sanctions."

A government official said the idea being studied at EU level is to allow companies whose assets have been seized by Moscow to have recourse to already frozen European assets belonging to JSC Gazprom Household Systems or other companies used by Putin to take control of Russian units of EU groups.

(Reporting by Giuseppe Fonte and Giselda Vagnoni; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)