The League sounds Russian. “We should be careful not to send weapons that risk dragging the Atlantic Alliance into a direct conflict with Russia. Because that would mean triggering a nuclear war. Caution is needed. Let us use more reason and less bellicose propaganda.” Thus spoke Massimiliano Romeo, who leads the senators of the League (a governing party), on the Rai 3 television programme.
- Mr Romeo clarified that it is right “to support Ukraine, including at the military level” and to defend its right to self-determination, noting that the League had effectively voted on all relevant provisions.
- Nonetheless, that first quote went along the same lines of Russian Ambassador Sergey Razov, who also said on Wednesday that by supplying more sophisticated weapons to Ukraine, Italy was favouring a military escalation – and “being dragged” into the war.
- The League’s leader, Matteo Salvini, had voiced opposition to arming Ukraine in the past.
And so does Giuseppe Conte. On the same day, the Five Star Movement leader confirmed he’ll take part in a peace demonstration on Saturday, underscoring his conviction that Rome should stop sending weapons and work for an as-of-yet unspecified “peace plan.”
- “Common sense is breaking through,” he told LaPresse on Wednesday. “This is what we all hope for, so that it prevails in Italy and through the government, and then that the government can take on this common sense in Europe and in the international community.”
- He added that diplomatic efforts to instigate a peace negotiation are “very difficult” but “the only way out.”
Mind the timing. These comments come in the wake of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s trip to Kyiv, where she reiterated the imperative of supporting its resistance against the Russian invasion and spoke of the quality leap in Italian military supplies.
- Rome is working to supply Kyiv with a series of high-grade air defence systems, including the advanced SAMP/T.
- Meanwhile, allies of Ukraine are debating whether to send fighter jets in accordance to the country’s request. Though the Italian PM said they are “off the table” for the time being, she also specified it’s a decision Italy must make alongside international partners.
- “We can start a discussion on AMX fighter bombers,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Edmondo Cirielli to Il Messaggero.
Russia’s response to Ms Meloni’s promises took the form of a wave of cyberattacks against several institutional and commercial Italian websites. The pro-Russian hacker group known as NoName057 later claimed responsibility via Telegram, citing Italy’s sixth weapons package – that which contains the SAMP/T air defence system – as a reason.
- The DDoS-type attack flooded the websites of the Foreign and Defence Ministries, the Carabinieri police corps, BPER Bank and energy company A2A, among others, with requests. However, the attempt was largely foiled – all sites only experienced temporary disruptions.