Russian president Vladimir Putin is to circumvent a Western pledge to isolate Moscow internationally over the crisis in Ukraine by visiting the universal exhibition in Milan, Italy, days after the world leaders assemble without him in Germany for the G7 summit.
The Kremlin has confirmed Putin will hold talks with Italian officials after touring the site of Expo Milan 2015, a food-themed commercial fair.
"Yes, President Putin plans to visit Italy," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying by Russian media. "He will visit the Russian pavilion at the Expo and most likely the Italian pavilion. There will also be contacts with the Italian side".
Expo spokesman Giacomo Biraghi confirmed to IBTimes UK the 62-year-old leader is expected at the fair on 10 June.
Three days earlier, US president Barack Obama is to meet the heads of the world's leading industrial nations in the Bavarian resort of Schloss Elmau.
Russia was suspended from the G8 summit (now G7) last year, as punishment for its annexation of Crimea and support of separatist insurgents in eastern Ukraine.
Obama is likely to use the gathering to pressure European leaders into renew sanctions against the Kremlin that are set to expire this summer.
Economic penalties were credited with fuelling a dramatic freefall of the Russian rouble in December 2014, although the currency has since stabilised.
Meanwhile, Moscow's diplomacy has been working to sow division among the EU's 27 member states, which have to unanimously consent for the sanctions to be renewed.
Countries with strong financial ties with Russia, including Italy, fear the measure could backlash, harming their own battered economies.
In May, former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, a personal friend of Putin, severely criticised the West's decision to isolate Russia.
"In the current geopolitical situation, the West has faced two challenges − the emerging Asian economic powers and the political and military Islamic fundamentalism. To withstand these challenges, it is crucial to have Russia on our side," Berlusconi wrote in a letter to Italy's leading daily Il Corriere Della Sera.
Putin's visit to Milan might set the scene for a meeting between the two, who famously enjoyed a late-night reunion at the flamboyant billionaire's villa in the city in October last year.
At Expo, Biraghi said Putin will attend celebrations for Russia Day at the country's purpose-built pavilion.
The national holiday of the Russian Federation actually falls on 12 June but festivities in Milan will be held two days earlier partially to accommodate the president's schedule, according to pavilion officials.
"Mr President's visit is on 10 [June] because it is connected with his business schedule, so it was decided to extend the national day to the 10, just at the Expo," a spokesperson for Russia Expo Milano 2015 told IBTimes UK.
The spokesperson said that other factors, including calendar requests from the Expo organisers, also played a role in the decision to move the celebrations forward.
Putin is not the only head of state expected at the fair that, with "Feeding the Planet, Energy For Life" as its central theme, is focused on nutrition.
"The leaders of Great Britain, France, Belgium and Germany are also very likely to attend," Biraghi said.