Giuseppe Conte’s line on Ukraine. The leader of the Five Star Movement remains the loudest and most influential voice in Italian politics to oppose aiding Kyiv by sending military equipment. And on Monday, in an interview with La Stampa, he again burnished these credentials by stating that providing weapons has “banned the negotiation strategy” and “only causes death and destruction.
- The interview comes a few days after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky travelled to Rome to meet Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and President Sergio Mattarella – who assured steadfast support – as well as Pope Francis.
Not his cup of tea. “I note that Giorgia Meloni, using an expression that struck me very much, “is betting” on Ukrainian victory, promising unlimited military supplies. This, however, accepts the possibility of endless carnage and possible nuclear deflagration,” said Mr Conte, arguing that the government’s “warlike momentum” is an attempt to divert attention from internal discussions.
- He also said that Ukraine’s territorial integrity is not up for discussion, but that this “doesn’t mean that we mustn’t create the conditions to sit around a table”…
- … and he remarked that Italy’s Atlanticist positioning is also firm, but that the country should discuss with allies – because “if we only take indications, then we’re subordinates.”
- If he was prime minister, he told the interviewer, he would have pressured other European leaders to “engage everyone in the peace process, avoiding the Russian military escalation.”
What’s missing: any reference to the fact that the “carnage” and “nuclear escalation” come unilaterally from Russia and are a consequence of its war of aggression against Ukraine. In fact, Mr Conte completely skirted the matter of Vladimir Putin’s responsibilities.
- He did, however, suggest that PM Meloni should have gone to China to speak with President Xi Jinping in the context of Beijing’s attempt at mediating and its decidedly Russia-slanted peace plan.