Rome’s in it for the long haul. On Tuesday, during a group call, Western leaders confirmed the urgency of close coordination in assisting Ukraine. That goes for “all dimensions, even in this further phase of the conflict,” reads an official Italian note, according to which leaders reiterated the need to “continue to maintain strong pressure on Russia through a sanctions framework that is proving very effective.”
- Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni confirmed the Italian government’s “continued and convinced support for the Ukrainian authorities in every sphere for as long as it is necessary and with the aim of achieving a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.”
- As the new US Ambassador to Italy, Jack Markell, told Corriere della Sera, Rome “has once again proved to be a reliable ally,” and PM Meloni “has proved to be a solid rock in supporting Ukraine.”
The call came from Washington. It was United States President Joe Biden who got the leaders on the phone at a delicate time. He confirmed that Washington would continue providing its aid even though the Republican-held House of Representatives have blocked the relevant funding.
- Other than PM Meloni and President Biden, the heads of State and government from Italy, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Poland and Romania, plus NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg, European Council President Michel and European Commission President von der Leyen were on the call.
Signs of populist stalling. The US lapse in support will make Russian President Vladimir Putin “believe that he can now wait us out” and “continue the conflict until we and our allies and partners fold,” as White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters. On the other side of the pond, Hungary is still vetoing the EU’s budget for 2024-2027, which features €50 billion in aid for Ukraine, to obtain concessions from Brussels.
- At this juncture in time, maintaining the momentum is evidently crucial. And Italy is standing out as a reliable ally across the board, having recently signalled that its eight military aid package is incoming and bolstering its network on the ground to ready the country’s reconstruction.
How to manage this? In an interview with Sky TG24, PM Meloni reiterated that supporting Ukraine “is not only right but also the best way to defend Italy’s national interest. What many pretend not to understand” is that a successful Russian invasion of the entirety of Ukraine would not bring about peace, but a heightened risk of war, she added.
- Still, “clearly the war generates consequences that strongly impact our societies, and if we are not good at dealing with those consequences, public opinion will continue to creak” – an issue she also tabled during the call with allies.
- “Inflation, energy prices, migration, these are all consequences of the conflict. They impact on the citizens and generate resistance or risk generating public fatigue. If we want to defend Ukraine strongly, we must also be careful about these consequences.”