Italy does not change its program to send weapons to Ukraine. The Government of Giorgia Meloni has approved this Thursday to extend until the end of 2023 the authorization to send “means, materials and military equipment to the Ukrainian government authorities”, a decision that must now be ratified by Parliament in the next two months.
This is something that Meloni had already announced during the electoral campaign, but that, given the ambiguity with Russia of his Forza Italia and Liga partners in the government coalition, has important significance. It materializes the fact that Rome, with a government led by Brothers from Italy, will follow the path outlined by Mario Draghi on the war in Ukraine, that of supporting the line of the EU and NATO against Moscow.
In her first speech before Parliament, the far-right prime minister confirmed that Italy is “fully part of the EU of the Western world.” “Giving in to Putin’s blackmail on energy would not solve the problem, it would aggravate it, opening the way for new claims and blackmail for future increases in the price of energy greater than those we have seen in recent months,” he assured, to the applause of the representatives in the Chamber of Deputies.
Draghi was also a strong supporter of the Ukrainian cause, but arms shipments were a sensitive issue in his government. In fact, it was the first major crack that fractured the coalition, after it divided Giuseppe Conte’s 5 Star Movement (M5E), which ended up abandoning the former president of the European Central Bank and causing the early elections that Meloni won.
Salvini and Berlusconi’s links with Putin sparked controversy in Italy
At the time, Matteo Salvini, now Meloni’s deputy prime minister, was also personally opposed to sending new weapons to Kyiv. Both he and Conte were following polls showing that a large part of public opinion is against arming Ukrainians. They are the so-called pacifists, or equidistant, who see that the invasion is far away, and who have fueled the anti-American drive that has never been fully quenched in a country that has always had strong ties with Russia. A last poll this month is very clear: the majority of Italians, more than 53% of them, do not agree with sending more weapons.
The strong ties to Russia of both Salvini and Forza Italia leader Silvio Berlusconi have sparked fierce controversy in the country. In particular, Berlusconi’s revelations shortly after the right wing voted, assuring his supporters that he had resumed friendship with Russian President Vladimir Putin and that he was “pushed to replace the Zelenski government with good people”. .