June 21. 2024. 3:08

The Daily

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Italian senator: Russia, China threaten Mediterranean security, infrastructure

Russia and China are the main threat to Mediterranean security and strategic infrastructure – such as gas pipelines and undersea cables –, Senator Marco Dreosto (League/ID), Secretary of the Bureau of the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, told EURACTIV.it.

According to the Lega senator, instability in the Mediterranean is among the possible developments of the conflict in Ukraine.

In the region that spans from continental Europe to the northern and sub-Saharan belt of the African continent, “several hostile actors”, including Russia and China, could jeopardise Europe’s security, he added.

Regarding Russia, the country has an ever-growing naval fleet presence in the region. Russia is also influential in the region, notably through the actions of the Wagner group. At the same time, China continues its “effective penetration action” in the Mediterranean basin unabated. While their motives are mainly economic, both countries carry out propaganda and disinformation campaigns against the West daily, Dreosto added.

Turkey and Iran in the Balkans and the proliferation of jihadist movements in the Sahel also threaten the stability of strategic areas, creating an Italian and European security problem.

According to Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s executive, one of the first attacks is the “migrant bomb”, as defined by Senate League (ID) group leader Massimiliano Romeo, namely the growing flow of irregular migrants from Africa to Italy.

The alarm came directly from the top echelons of Italian institutions, with Defence Minister Guido Crosetto (FDI/ECR) speaking of a “hybrid war,” carried out by the Wagner group in Africa, that would cause the wave of migrants. Crosetto’s position is supported by the entire government majority and Meloni.

“The migratory flows caused by the instability (induced or physiological) of the countries of the enlarged Mediterranean are just one of the hybrid weapons used by these hostile actors to fight an asymmetric war,” Dreosto stresses.

Moreover, in the context of heightened geopolitical tensions in Europe, in addition to “traditional” attacks by land, sea or air, there are also cyber and “underwater” attacks, which could target strategic infrastructure: gas pipelines for Italian and European energy supplies, undersea cables for internet data transmission.

The threat also expands to the global economy when considering that 20% of maritime trade routes, crucial for import-export, pass through the Mediterranean.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg recently spoke on the issue, confirming the Atlantic Alliance’s commitment to the Mediterranean to address illegal migration and protect critical infrastructure.

“We are seeing an increased Russian presence in Africa,” Stoltenberg said, stressing that pressures on the Alliance’s southern front have “a lot to do with critical infrastructure.”

“NATO has a significant presence in the Mediterranean to address instability and combat terrorism. We support the European Union’s efforts to address illegal migration,” while “we also work with partners like Tunisia (…) and will increase our efforts with partners in Africa,” he said.

Prior to Stoltenberg’s speech, Dreosto filed a motion in the Italian Senate to activate the government’s request for economic aid and concrete actions from NATO and the EU to strengthen Europe’s southern flank. The aim is to stabilise the wider Mediterranean area and special support for Italy, which, due to its geographical location, is on the front lines of dealing with the migrant crisis and any other threats.

“It is necessary to boost and accelerate the production of strategic and high-tech instrumentation for our Defence, that of the Atlantic Alliance and to give more incisiveness to our military contingents abroad”, the senator said, stressing that Italy must invest in defence to comply with the pacts made with international partners and prove to be reliable.

“Italy must rediscover a vocation for maritimacy, putting the sea at the centre of our country, which must be conceived as an area where we can project our geopolitical strength, not only for our own security but that of the entire West,” Dreosto also said.

(Federica Pascale | EURACTIV.it)