Still sending weapons. The Italian government is gearing up to approve its fourth military aid package for Ukraine. Rome intends to honour its promises, notwithstanding the collapse of Mario Draghi’s government and internal friction around providing Kyiv with more arms.
- As the PM reiterated in one of his last speeches to Parliament, Italy believes sending weapons is the only way to help Ukrainians defend themselves.
- “Italy is firmly supporting Ukraine by sending military equipment, in line with parliamentary decisions and alongside our allies and partners,” said Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio on Tuesday.
Follow the bill… On Wednesday, Defence Minister Lorenzo Guerini was received by Parliament’s Intelligence Committee (COPASIR). They discussed the contents of the arms package, which are shrouded in secrecy so as to keep the Kremlin from gathering intel.
…and its contents. Il Messaggero believes the equipment Italy will send to Ukraine includes much of what has already been provided, such as Lince armoured vehicles with anti-mine protection, FH-70 Howitzers, machine guns, ammunition and Stinger air defence systems.
- It’s unclear whether longer-range weapons, namely multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS), will be included. Much like their US counterparts, dubbed HIMARS, they possess a range up to 80 kilometres.
- Kyiv has been asking for this kind of equipment, as it seems to have given the Ukrainian army an edge over the Russian invaders, but the Five Star Movement is opposed.
Boosting NATO deterrence. Rome is slated to carry on a new air policing mission with Eurofighter jets in Poland. It will also send an additional 750 units in Bulgaria to take command of the battlegroup and some more in Hungary.
- Over on the Eastern frontier, Italy has already deployed over 2,000 military personnel and 500 vehicles, plus 1,300 reservists, who have been standing by on maximum alert since February.
Plus, international missions. Italy will also strengthen its fleet in the Eastern Mediterranean. As Mr Guerini noted, “Russia’s aggression and its evolution have demanded a rearrangement [and more] flexibility” among NATO assets.
- In 2022 the Italian forces will partake in 44 international missions, four more than in 2021. The average personnel deployment has risen from 6,500 units last year to nearly 7,600 this year.
- These commitments, added the minister, underscore Italy’s double strategic posture: more proactiveness on making and reinforcing partnerships with other countries, and maintaining reactiveness in the face of operative emergencies – such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.