| 20 June 2024, Thursday |

Italy open to supplying air defense systems to Ukraine, according to an official

According to a member of the ruling coalition, the Italian government is preparing a new arms package for Ukraine that would include air defense systems.

Since President Volodymyr Zelenskiy urged the leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) nations for assistance last month to halt Russian missiles from raining down on Ukrainian cities, Western countries have begun sending more air defense equipment to Ukraine.

The anonymous Italian coalition official stated that Rome was prepared to offer Ukraine a range of air defense systems, including the medium-range Franco-Italian SAMP/T and Italian Aspide as well as transportable Stinger missiles.

However, it remains unclear how many of these it could offer or when any shipment might be delivered, the official said.

Italian Defence Minister Guido Crosetto spoke by phone on Monday with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and pledged to support Ukraine against Russia’s invasion for “as long as necessary”, a statement said.

Italy approved its first weapons delivery to Kyiv late in February, under the national unity government of Mario Draghi. Giorgia Meloni’s newly installed right-wing coalition government is preparing a sixth round of supplies.

Meloni is a staunch supporter of Ukraine despite the ambivalence of her coalition allies, Matteo Salvini and Silvio Berlusconi, who both have historically close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Rome has never disclosed details of the arms it has sent to Kyiv since the Russian invasion, but Italian and Ukrainian media have said previous shipments included multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS), Pzh2000 howitzers and armoured vehicles.

On Monday, Kyiv said it had received its first delivery of NASAMS air defence systems from the United States. French President Emmanuel Macron also pledged last week to boost Kyiv’s anti-air defences.

  • Reuters