A report by Reuters, citing an anonymous political source, said that Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni will travel to Kyiv for a visit and meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, on Monday (February 20). It is reported that the source made this claim on Sunday. The Italian PM’s visit comes amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine and days before the conflict will mark its first anniversary.
Meloni, who took office in October, last year has been a firm supporter of Ukraine amid its ongoing conflict despite disputes over the issue within her right-wing ruling coalition and divided public opinion. Earlier this month, Italy and France said that they have finalised technical talks for the joint delivery of a SAMP/T-MAMBA air defence system to Kyiv in the spring of this year. The European-made defence system is said to be the only one that can intercept ballistic missiles. Additionally, it can also track dozens of targets and intercept 10 at the same time.
On Friday, European People’s Party (EPP) cancelled a planned event in Naples after former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi criticised Ukraine. Notably, Berlusconi’s party Forza Italia, which he leads, is a member of EPP as well as Meloni’s ruling coalition. The comments in question include the former Italian PM saying that he would not meet Zelensky if he were still in power as he blames the Ukrainian President for the ongoing conflict with Russia.
He also said, “So I judge, very, very negatively, the behaviour of this gentleman” referring to Zelensky. Days after which EPP President Manfred Weber, in a tweet said, “Following the remarks by Silvio Berlusconi on Ukraine we decided to cancel our study days in Naples. Support for Ukraine is not optional”.
Subsequently, the former Italian PM in a post on Facebook wrote, “With the world on the brink of a nuclear war between Russia and NATO countries, I get criticised because I ask that, together with the support for Ukraine…negotiations should be immediately launched to achieve peace”.
He added that this should “immediately be put on the agenda of the EPP’s next meetings.” The event in question included EPP’s European parliamentary lawmakers who were due to convene in Naples in June for a discussion of strategy. The decision also sparked criticism from Forza Italia’s leadership.
Meanwhile, the Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani and one of the founders of Berlusconi’s party, on Saturday, met with Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference and reaffirmed Italy’s support amid the ongoing conflict.
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