Zelensky’s optimism on Meloni. The new Italian prime minister and her government have taken extremely clear stances in favour of Ukraine and NATO. But several components of her team have spoken out in favour of Russia, both in the past and recently. That does not appear to worry the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, who spoke with Il Corriere della Sera.
- “For now, I can only speak positively about your newly installed government. I have no negative impressions. I had a telephone conversation with the new PM, who was clearly in favour of our common alliance and assured me of her full support for Ukraine against Russian aggression.”
- “I think we built a very good relationship in continuity with the period [former PM Mario] Draghi started,” he added, noting that PM Meloni “is now fully involved in discussions in Brussels to send us a package of new military aid. It all sounds good to me.”
What about Berlusconi’s pro-Putin statements? “I did not see [Silvio] Berlusconi’s personal opinions in those sentences; he merely repeated Putin’s,” noted President Zelensky, adding that the former even used the same expressions and narratives as the latter. “That scares me less. Only 8% of Italians vote for him, which is your electorate’s comforting response. That is enough for me anyway, he is almost 90 years old, and I wish him good health,” he told Corriere’s Lorenzo Cremonesi.
Italy as Russia’s trojan horse. Considering Matteo Salvini’s sympathies for President Putin in addition to Mr Berlusconi’s ties with the Russian president, noted the journalist, some suspect Moscow could leverage its Roman connections to break Europe’s Atlanticism. “I don’t see how,” answered the Ukrainian president, circling back to Ms Meloni’s promises.
- “I see that the Italian people really support Ukraine […] but it is a difficult challenge” which involves “the cost of enduring new economic uncertainties. I know it is difficult to give up doing easy business with Russia in the short term, you risk economic instability,” he added. “But it is for the future of European stability, democracy, civilisation and freedom itself.”