Europe's primary threats emanate from cyberspace, Italy's defense minister said while speaking at the Ambrosetti forum in Cernobbio, Italy on Sunday, corroborating the assessments of numerous Western defense leaders.
But while cyber threats from Russia in particular loom large for many European allies, the country remains a major trading partner — necessitating dialogue rather than conflict, she said.
"I think cyber is the most important and the worst threat that we have to face. And this means we have to make a lot of investment in cyber security," Defense Minister Elisabetta Trenta told CNBC's Steve Sedgwick. But in response to the calls from NATO allies including the U.K. and Baltic states to take a tougher stance against Russia, Trenta stressed her country's need for a nuanced approach.
"What we say about Russia — we are sure that U.S.A is our biggest ally, but Russia is a trade partner," the minister said. "We should have a double track with Russia. Double track with Russia means we have to be very tough with them … But we have to have a dialogue with them a political dialogue, never to stop the dialogue. It is dangerous to stop the dialogue."