Home » The Italian left’s new leader clears the air on arming Ukraine

The Italian left’s new leader clears the air on arming Ukraine

Elly Schlein
The Democratic Party’s secretary Elly Schlein quelled doubts on her position, confirming she is in favour of sending weapons to Kyiv to aid it against Putin’s “criminal invasion.” That’s despite her broader thematic alignment with the Five Star Movement, which opposes military aid

Elly Schlein on arming Kyiv. Over the past few days, the newly-elected leader of the Democratic Party (PD) sought to dispel rumours about softening its stance on the conflict and arming Ukraine. While on air on Rai 3, when asked whether Rome should continue supplying weapons, she answered, “Yes, absolutely. We must support the Ukrainian people from a criminal invasion, that is not in question.”

  • Speaking to the New York Times in a recent interview, she also “described her party as wholly supportive of Ukraine against the ‘criminal invasion’ by Russia and noted it had voted to send arms over the next year, because ‘it’s necessary now.’”
  • “However, there can be no [political] left without ambition to build a peaceful future,” she stressed while on Italian TV, calling for the European Union to play “a strong political and diplomatic role. [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is still not isolated, and many support him. That is why more pressure is needed to bring about an end to the conflict and a just peace.”

Not the sixth star. While on the campaign trail for the PD’s primaries, Ms Schlein had never fully clarified her stance on supplying weapons to Ukraine. And after her surprising victory (which translates into a leftward push for the party), commentators noted that many of her positions aligned with those of Giuseppe Conte, leader of the Five Star Movement (M5S) and main opponent of the government’s efforts to help Ukraine militarily under the guise of “pacifism”.

  • Ms Schlein confirmed several areas of cooperation between her PD and the M5S and even attended a weekend manifestation in Florence alongside Mr Conte – whom she hugged.
  • Nevertheless, she told the NYT she does not agree with the M5S on the issue of arming Ukraine. Her family history “has made her keenly sensitive to ‘what nationalism has brought to the European continent,’” writes the paper, noting that President Putin’s war is “nationalist” in nature.

The party’s moderates buy it. Ms Schlein’s words have “cleared the field” of doubts, tweeted PD’s Enrico Borghi – one of the PD’s most vocal supporters of Ukraine and the Euro-Atlantic line – who had endorsed her opponent in the primaries, the more centre-left Stefano Bonaccini.

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