March 4. 2024. 10:03

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Italy will ‘probably’ help Ukraine amid risk of Russian nuclear threat


Italy, while struggling to meet NATO spending requirements, will probably help Kyiv against the risk of Russian nuclear threat as a ceasefire appears very unlikely for now, Defence Minister Guido Crosetto told lawmakers during a hearing Thursday.

During a hearing before the Defence and Foreign Affairs Committees of the House and Senate, Crosetto (FDI/ECR) outlined his ministry’s policy lines and expressed strong misgivings about the peaceful resolution of the conflict in Ukraine in the short term.

“I hope for a ceasefire, which does not mean the war’s end. Only after that can reasoning begin,” said the minister, who, for now, does not see the necessary conditions to discuss negotiations.

“Look at the attacks that are being launched daily by Russia (…) At every meeting, Kyiv asks for reinforcements because, every day, bombs are falling, and there are troops trying to occupy the cities. Every day a siren sounds telling us to go to the shelters,” said Crosetto.

In recent days, not only requests for weapons and tanks have come from Ukraine, but other “more worrying” requests for defence equipment against nuclear, bacteriological and chemical attacks, he warned.

Italy will “probably” supply the equipment requested by Kyiv. “Everything we can do, we will do”, Crosetto stressed.

In an interview with EURACTIV, the leader of Russia’s only opposition party, liberal Nikolai Ribakov, warned not to let the guard down: Putin is not bluffing.

“For Putin, defeat in the war means the death of Russia. He has warned many times. Nuclear weapons will be used in case the country’s existence is threatened. And, according to him, this scenario (defeat) would be precisely this threat”, Ribakov said.

At the defence ministers’ meeting held at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Crosetto pointed out that it will be difficult for Italy to maintain its 2% military spending commitment under NATO rules to support Ukraine.

“Given the financial conditions and European budgetary constraints, it will be a difficult commitment for us to keep,” Crosetto said.

“There are countries like Poland already at 4% and England that proposes 3%”, Crosetto recalled. “It will be discussed again in Vilnius and we risk being the only ones not to make it,” he added.

Meanwhile, Italy faces a staffing problem at the police and army level, which, according to the minister, was caused by a freeze on the turnover during Mario Monti’s government.

“Now enrolments are underway, all the staffing levels will be filled, but it will take time,” Crosetto added.

(Federica Pascale | EURACTIV.it)