The pro-Russian voices lingering in the Italian media. Over the past decades, Rome has historically been softer on Moscow than most of its Western allies. That changed when Russia unleashed its all-out invasion of Ukraine, with polls now showing that most Italians support arming Kyiv’s resistance – all the more impressive when considering their past closeness with Vladimir Putin’s country.
- Still, that sentiment has not disappeared, at least in some parts of society, politics – and the media. And forces opposing Italy’s closeness to Ukraine (and the Western camp more generally) never stopped pushing the kind of tongue-in-cheek content that often reminisces Kremlin’s talking points.
Case in point / 1. On Monday, Report – an investigative journalism programme airing on State TV’s Rai 3 channel – put forth a package on the Ukraine Reconstruction conference in Warsaw, along with the Italian rebuilding efforts. The narration cast doubts on the very idea of helping the war-torn country to recover at this stage – as it would be “too early” – and criticizes those who would like to close “shady deals” to profit off it.
- At one point, the programme notes that Russia “is already rebuilding [the occupied city of] Mariupol in the meantime.”
- The package then calls into question the Ukrainian government for charging $7,000 for a meeting on the subject with entrepreneurs interested in reconstruction – in Report’s words, “money that we don’t know where it ends up.”
- Finally, the segment suggestively segues into an investigation on Enterprise Minister Adolfo Urso, appointed to support Italian companies and the Italian system in its effort to invest in rebuilding Ukraine – as laid out in April’s bilateral Ukraine Reconstruction conference in Rome.
Case in point / 2. Tuesday’s edition of Il Fatto Quotidiano – a national newspaper ideologically close to the Five Star Movement’s Giuseppe Conte, and similarly opposed to arming Ukraine – sported an article about who supports the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI), a leading think tank led by foreign affairs expert Nathalie Tocci.
- The piece suggested IAI’s supporters, which feature national, European and international institutions as well as major Italian energy, defence and financial companies, compromise its independence and influence what Il Fatto Quotidiano perceives as its all-too-Atlanticist output.
- It also casts doubts on the integrity of IAI’s board, naming the public servants and industrials that sit in it and implying their role means “it’s easy for Nathalie Tocci to appear on the media, less so detach from the mainstream on [matters of] energy, weapons and the war in Ukraine.”