Italy has significant economic ties with Russia that have been damaged by tit-for-tat sanctions over the Ukraine crisis and has pushed for Western nations to engage with Russia to overcome differences, as reported by Reuters.

Last week it unexpectedly blocked an automatic rollover of sanctions by the European Union, saying the matter required further discussion.

Renzi, who attends an EU summit later on Wednesday, made clear in an interview with Italian radio that he did not intend to prevent a further six-month extension to the sanctions as already agreed.

But he repeated he expected a full debate next year.

"It's clear that we have the same position as the entire international Western community... but I think that this package of sanctions will be reviewed, not in the next few hours but in the coming months," Renzi said.

The Italian word he used for "reviewed" can also mean "revised" or "overhauled".

The EU and United States imposed sanctions on Moscow after Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula in March 2014 and its subsequent support for separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.

European leaders are likely to discuss the matter at a meeting in Brussels on Thursday, and EU and Italian officials have said they do not expect problems in renewing the sanctions that expire at the end of the year for another six months.