Giuseppe Conte speaks in Parliament. On Wednesday, the former Prime Minister and current head of the Five Star Movement (M5S) took the floor to discuss Ukraine in response to PM Meloni’s statements ahead of the European Council meeting on March 23-24. And his line, as usual, was shrouded in calls for “peace” and to stop arming Ukraine to avoid a military escalation, all baked in Kremlin talking points.
His speech, by the numbers.
- Over 12 minutes, roughly 1,700 words
- “Russia”: quoted once, accusing the Meloni government of pursuing a military victory over Moscow
- “Putin”: quoted once (and not in relation to his responsibility in initiating the invasion)
- “Escalation”: mentioned three times. “Weapons” and the like, four times
- “Invasion”: never mentioned
The nuclear threat was repeatedly raised by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Over the past few days, he promised to retaliate against the United Kingdom’s decision to ship depleted uranium shells to Ukraine (a standard armour-piercing component that has nothing to do with nuclear weapons, according to the British Ministry of Defence).
- Still, Mr Conte criticised PM Meloni and her government for not distancing themselves from the British decision, implicitly buying into Russia’s disinformation narrative. “You are dragging us headlong into war, ignoring the fact that in a conflict triggered by a nuclear power, there are no winners,” he said.
- “That is why we cannot support further military supplies, and we call on everyone in Parliament to get out of the misunderstanding that this is the way to [reach] peace.”
Allusion of servitude… “[PM] Meloni, you are taking Italy to war with a courageous attitude. However, Italians know that courage does not dwell in those who merely take orders to please allies bent on military escalation but in those who have the strength to speak to our allies and put Italy in line with its traditional vocation: at the head of a diplomatic effort for a political way out, which is the only real alternative to the global conflict,” continued Mr Conte.
… and more conspiracy lingo. The M5S leader then highlighted the party had taken “note of [PM Meloni’s] outspoken support for the arms lobby. And we are not surprised because she is as thoughtful in taking the advice of her Defence Minister as she is unyielding in hearing the cry of pain coming from families and businesses.”
- That plays on the idea, voiced by M5S members, that not sending supplies to Ukraine would translate to fewer taxes or bigger pensions. Military aid, stressed PM Meloni earlier, serves to “keep the war away from the rest of Europe and our home.”