| 29 May 2024, Wednesday |

Italy lawmakers call off vote on extending Ukraine arms supplies

After the opposition demanded a separate decree on the subject, Italy’s ruling rightist parties withdrew an amendment on Tuesday that would have allowed the government to keep delivering weapons to Ukraine through 2023, a parliamentary source said.

After Russia invaded Ukraine, the administration of former Prime Minister Mario Draghi put in place policies that made it possible to provide weaponry to Kiev without getting parliamentary approval for each shipment.

This arrangement expires at the end of the year and the coalition backing Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni initially tried to extend it until Dec. 31, 2023, by amending a government decree currently going through parliament.

However the main opposition group – the center-left Democratic Party (PD) – complained that the decree in question was not specifically related to Ukraine and accused the government of bending parliamentary rules.

In reaction, Minister for Parliamentary Relations Luca Ciriani said the government would consider pushing through the measure via a separate decree, while still ensuring its speedy approval.

Support for Ukraine has been a contentious topic within the ruling coalition, which includes Meloni’s Brothers of Italy, Matteo Salvini’s League and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia parties.

Meloni is a steadfast backer of Kyiv, in contrast to her friends Salvini and Berlusconi, whose positions on the issue have been far murkier because of their prior associations with Russia and President Vladimir Putin.

A representative of the ruling coalition earlier this month told Reuters that Italy was getting ready to provide Ukraine a sixth military package, which would include the air defense systems Kyiv had sought.

In a recent interview, Defense Minister Guido Crosetto vowed to keep sending weaponry at the intervals and in the manners determined by the NATO allies and the Kyiv government.

While other leftist opposition groups favor the government shifting its attention from supplying weaponry to intensifying diplomatic efforts, the PD also supports Ukraine.

  • Reuters