| 15 April 2024, Monday |

Italy parliament set to extend Ukraine arms supplies to 2023

Italy’s ruling rightist parties are poised to vote on allowing the government to continue delivering weapons to Ukraine throughout 2023, according to a draft amendment and a parliamentary motion seen by Reuters on Tuesday.

The upper-house Senate is debating the plan, which would change a decree that Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s administration enacted earlier this month but is currently awaiting approval.

It would extend the authorisation to send “military assets, materials and equipment” until Dec. 31 2023. Lawmakers will discuss the decree on Tuesday but it was not clear when a vote would take place.

Together the amendment and the decree would allow the government to send more arms supplies to Kyiv if and when it sees fit, without seeking parliamentary authorisation for each shipment.

Support for Ukraine has been a contentious issue 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 staunch supporter of Kyiv, while her allies Salvini and Berlusconi have been much more ambiguous due to their historical ties with Russia and President Vladimir Putin.

“It is worth supporting Ukraine because negotiations can only emerge from a balance of power on the field,” Meloni said on Tuesday in an interview to daily Corriere della Sera.

Earlier this month, a governing coalition official told Reuters that Italy was readying a sixth arms package for Ukraine, including air defence systems Kyiv had requested.

In an interview last week, Defence Minister Guido Crosetto pledged to continue supplying arms in the times and ways agreed with the NATO allies and the government in Kyiv.

The issue of weapons shipments is also being debated in the lower house of parliament, with part of the leftist opposition lobbying the government to shift focus from sending arms to stepping up diplomatic negotiations.

However, the right-wing majority at the Chamber is set to present a motion along the same lines of the upper house amendment, urging the government to extend arms shipment until the end of 2023.

The draft motion, seen by Reuters, asks Meloni’s administration “to take all necessary steps to achieve the (NATO) target of 2% of GDP in defence spending by 2028,” laid down last March by the previous government of Mario Draghi.

  • Reuters