It happened again. On Monday, the Russian Embassy in Italy accused Rome of sending anti-personnel mines to Kyiv, repeating a claim already belied by Defence Minister Guido Crosetto.
- The Twitter post depicts supposed Italian-made mines, explaining they have been defused by Russian sappers in Ukraine. “How many of these «souvenirs d’Italie» still remain there? People will suffer from it for a long time to come…”, reads the text.
The Italian Defence’s response. In a communiqué seen by Decode39, Defence Minister Guido Crosetto remarked that the Russian Embassy, “like the Russian Foreign Ministry […] is lying knowing that it is lying,” sought to clarify the tweet’s “deliberately misleading, untrue and seriously disparaging information,” and warned Russia and its diplomatic terminals against continuing to propagate false news on the subject.
Setting the record straight. “The mines reproduced in the tweet (1 anti-personnel and 2 anti-tank) resemble Italian-made Valsella/Tecnovar mines, which cannot be Italian for a multitude of reasons,” stated the Minister.
- First, “the production of anti-personnel mines in Italy stopped more than 28 years ago with a moratorium by the Italian government and the subsequent law 374/1997, which definitively banned them after our country became one of the first signatories of the Ottawa Treaty against anti-personnel mines.”
- Second, “Italian-made anti-personnel mines were only exported until the early 1990s. The production licence was also granted to other countries, as can be seen from the initials of the only anti-personnel mine pictured, a VS50 not produced in Italy but in the Far East.
Striking the same chord. On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova (who has a history of baseless attacks against Italy) claimed that Rome had supplied anti-personnel mines to Ukraine. The Russian Foreign Ministry also turned down Italy’s efforts to mediate, noting that Rome “is helping the bloody regime in Kyiv” and has an “aggressive anti-Russian” posture.
- On Thursday, Minister Crosetto had already rejected her statement as “completely false, unfounded and seriously disparaging to [Italy’s] honour.”
- Francesco Vignarca (Peace and Disarmament Network) noted that the Russian Embassy’s photo has “nothing to do” with the recently-shipped military equipment. He also remarked on the tragic irony of the Kremlin’s propaganda on mines coming from a country that’s not part of the Ottawa Treaty.
- Minister Crosetto retweeted this.
— Guido Crosetto (@GuidoCrosetto) January 9, 2023