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Italy, Poland make plans to form anti-European Union alliance

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The two countries have opposed the policies of the EU, but disagree on Russia

(JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini said Wednesday that Italy and Poland could unite to oppose current European Union leadership. This unity, he promised, could bring about a "European spring" that would defeat the "Germany-France axis."

What are the details?

Salvini has been known for his far-right and nationalistic views. In July, he faced criticism for tweeting out a quote from Benito Mussolini on what would have been the former Italian dictator's birthday.

In addition to being one of Italy's two deputy prime ministers, Salvini is also minister of the interior.

The current Italian government and Poland both resent European Union guidelines on a number of issues, but perhaps most notably on immigration. During his meeting Wednesday with Salvini, Polish Interior Minister Joachim Brudziński said that the two countries were united by a shared vision, which included "strengthening borders."

In June, when his party first came to power as part of a coalition government, Salvini had talked about creating a network of like-minded European leaders to oppose the existing European Union structure.

Salvini's meeting with Brudziński came only a day after his fellow Italian deputy prime minister, Luigi Di Maio, met with the leaders of populist movements from Poland, Croatia, and Finland.

What else?

While Poland agrees with the Italy on opposing EU bureaucracy and strengthening national borders, it fundamentally disagrees when it comes to Russia.

"Some of the views in Italy regarding Russia are met with concern in Poland across the political spectrum,' said Michal Baranowski, the head of the German Marshall Fund's Warsaw office, according to the Daily Mail.

Salvini has praised Russa's President Vladimir Putin as an invaluable ally, saying in Moscow in July that "having good relations with Russia is an intelligent move for Italy and the West."

He has also tried to end sanctions put in place by the U.S. and the EU on Russia over the annexation of Crimea.

Meanwhile, Poland is apprehensive about Russian expansionism. In September, the Polish government offered the United States $2 billion if it would open a military base in Poland to counter Russia.

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