In its first part, this essay explores the common traits of Vladimir Putin and Silvio Berlusconi (highly personalized leadership, populism with nationalistic features, extensive control of the media) and the distinctive role of the relationship with Russia in the overall approach of Berlusconi to foreign affairs, which has led Italy to depart from its traditional Europeanism and develop preferential relations with the United States and Russia. In the second part, the focus shifts from the entente between Berlusconi and Putin to the Italian- Russian relations, showing how the policy of rapprochement to Moscow has been pursued in a bipartisan manner by all Italian governments over the last 10-15 years. Russia is a fundamental partner for the Italian economy and trade, particularly as a supplier of energy products. Eni and Gazprom have established an extensive co-operation that can be said strategic without qualms and has made Eni the chief trading partner of Gazprom. The national choices in the field of energy sources, which have led to a growing dependence on Russian supplies, exerts a considerable influence on the Italian foreign policy - what arouses discontent in Europe and in the United States for the too strong and unbalanced tie with Moscow.
Keywords: Silvio Berlusconi, Vladimir Putin, Italian foreign policy, Italian energy policy, Italy-Russia relations, Eni-Gazprom relations