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Meloni renews Italy’s support for Ukraine during his trip to Kiev

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Italy’s Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, said during her visit to Kiev on Tuesday that Rome “has no intention of backing down” in its support for Ukraine.

“I wanted to do this (coming to Ukraine) to underscore Italy’s full support for Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression, and to underscore that Italy has no intention of backing down,” Meloni said at a joint press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

With the first anniversary of the Russian invasion just days away, the Italian leader also visited Irpin and Bucha, two towns outside Kiev devastated during Moscow’s failed attempt to capture the capital last year.

“It’s different,” she said, “seeing it with my own eyes. I will do everything to tell every Italian what I saw.”

NATO member Italy has provided money and weapons to help Ukraine, and earlier this month agreed to send mobile surface-to-air missile systems it jointly developed with France.

But Meloni said sending planes was “not on the table” at the moment, and that it was a decision that had to be made “in consultation with international partners”.

Zelensky criticized previous statements by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who has had a personal relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin for years.

“Mr. Berlusconi … his house was never bombed every day, I think. Thank God his partner from Russia did not enter his yard on a tank and did not destroy his family and friends,” Zelensky said.

Meloni came to power in October and leads the far-right Brotherhood of Italy party, but she has also distanced herself from pro-Russian partners in her ruling coalition.

Berlusconi, whose party considers Forza Italia the junior partner in the coalition, has sought to shift blame for the war away from Moscow, most recently earlier this week when he criticized Zelensky.

Meloni’s office responded by affirming its “steadfast and committed” support for Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, leader of the far-right League party, has in the past spoken fondly of Putin and even wore a T-shirt with the Russian president’s face on it.

Former Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi visited Kiev in June 2022 together with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

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