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Italian gov’t commits to extending Ukraine arms support into 2024

The Italian Council of Ministers authorised the executive to supply the Ukrainian Armed Forces with weapons, vehicles and supplies for all of next year. The decree must now go through Parliament, with Defence Minister Crosetto assuring it will pass. Meanwhile, the eight arms package is being examined by the Intel Committee – the last passage before final approval

Italy will arm Ukraine through 2025. On Tuesday, the Council of Ministers approved the extension of the government’s authorisation to send weapons, vehicles, and supplies to Kyiv to December 31, 2024. This decree is subject to the approval of the Lower House and the Senate. The decree’s text, explained Defence Minister Guido Crosetto, mirrors last year’s – which in turn mirrored the one laid out by the preceding government, led by Mario Draghi – in a sign of continuity.

Several reasons why. “The extension of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, in an international scenario aggravated by the Middle East crisis and the war between Israel and Hamas, requires the Meloni government to make a choice of coherence, support and, therefore, an extension of aid to Ukraine, in line with the international commitments undertaken by Italy within the EU and NATO,” reads the Ministry of Defence’s communiqué.

  • “Once again, therefore, Italy chooses to be on the side of the freedom of nations and respect for international law, with the aim of achieving, in line with the position taken by NATO and EU allies, a just and lasting peace,” commented Minister Crosetto.
  • In late November Rome became the latest capital to begin discussions on bilateral security guarantees with Kyiv.

Larger than the majority. The Defence Minister expects the decree to pass easily through Parliament, as “there is no political problem within the government majority” regarding the support to Ukraine. Lorenzo Guerini, former Defence Minister and Democratic Party (PD) MP, already welcomed the decision in a note. “Support for Ukraine is necessary to achieve a just peace that respects the territorial sovereignty and freedom of the Ukrainian people,” he wrote.

  • His party, the largest in the opposition, has also been supporting military aid since the Russian full-scale invasion started – as did Azione and Italia Viva, two centrist parties, which even supported the majority’s motion back in 2022.

The likely hold-out. It’s reasonable to expect that the Five Star Movement (M5S), the other major opposition force, will oppose the extension of military aid. Party members have accused the PD of lacking the “courage” to oppose weapons shipments to Ukraine, which remains the most insurmountable difference in their positioning.

  • “Where there is good politics, there cannot be armed conflict,” said M5S leader Giuseppe Conte on Monday, stressing his conviction that such conflicts erupt due to lack of political action. He then argued that since former arms shipments had not resulted in a peace negotiation, they must cease, owing to the “asymmetry of forces.”
  • Mr Conte believes the outcome of the war “cannot be a military victory against Russia, which has built its security and fortune on military apparatus, including atomic and nuclear [weapons]” – parroting a classic Kremlin propaganda point (not for the first time).

Eight weapons package incoming. Meanwhile, the contents of Rome’s next shipments of aid are being examined, as is customary, by the opposition-controlled Intelligence Committee – chaired by Mr Guerini himself. That’s the final political passage before it’s cleared, remarked Minister Crosetto, who expects it will be signed shortly. After this, its secret contents will be delivered to Kyiv.

  • On the other hand, there is less urgency to approve the aid extension decree – it “depends on the timing and the clogging up of Parliament,” and the government intends to ensure it goes through the proper parliamentary debate, remarked the Defence Minister, who noted the passage could be pushed to January.

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