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Italy’s Georgia Meloni says Ukraine can count on her ‘loyal support’

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Italy’s presumed new prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, has reassured Ukraine that she will continue to support their war efforts against Vladimir Putin.

Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted a congratulatory message to the far-right leader of the Brothers of Italy, who won the largest share of votes in Sunday’s election and will be named the country’s first-ever female leader.

Zelensky said in Italian: “We appreciate Italy’s constant support for Ukraine in the fight against Russian aggression.

“We are counting on a productive partnership with the new Italian government.”

Meloni, who congratulated Putin on his 2018 election victory and formed a coalition with Matteo Salvini and Silvio Berlusconi who praised the Russian leader even during the war, assured voters she will support Ukraine.

Italy's presumed new prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, has reassured Ukraine that she will continue to support their war efforts against Vladimir Putin.

Italy’s presumed new prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, has reassured Ukraine that she will continue to support their war efforts against Vladimir Putin.

Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted a congratulatory message to the leader of the Brothers of Italy

Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted a congratulatory message to the leader of the Brothers of Italy

Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted a congratulatory message to the leader of the Brothers of Italy

She replied: ‘You know you can count on our loyal support for the freedom of the Ukrainian people. Stay strong and keep your faith steadfast!’

Outgoing Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has been one of the strongest proponents of EU sanctions against Russia over Ukraine, despite his country’s reliance on Russian gas.

Rome has also sent weapons to help Kiev defeat President Vladimir Putin’s forces.

Meloni is Eurosceptic, but supports Draghi’s stance on Ukraine and supports supplying weapons so Kiev can defend itself.

Last week, her coalition partner Berlusconi sparked anger by claiming that Putin has been “pushed” to invade Ukraine and only wants “decent people” in charge of Kiev.

The Italian leader and former prime minister, whose small-partner Forza Italia party in the tri-party union has long been friends with Putin, and his comments are likely to alarm Western allies now that he’s back in government.

Zelensky said in Italian: 'We appreciate Italy's constant support for Ukraine in the fight against Russian aggression'

Zelensky said in Italian: 'We appreciate Italy's constant support for Ukraine in the fight against Russian aggression'

Zelensky said in Italian: ‘We appreciate Italy’s constant support for Ukraine in the fight against Russian aggression’

“Putin was pressured by the Russian people, by his party, by his ministers to come up with this special operation,” Berlusconi told Italian public television RAI on Thursday, using the official Russian wording for the war. .

Russia’s original plan was to capture Kiev “within a week,” replace the democratically elected Zelensky with “a government of decent people” and leave “within a week,” he said.

“I didn’t even understand why Russian troops spread across Ukraine when in my mind they should have only stayed around Kiev,” said Berlusconi, 85, who once described Putin as a younger brother.

Berlusconi faced widespread condemnation from opponents for his words and released a statement Friday saying his views were “too simple”.

“The aggression against Ukraine is unjustifiable and unacceptable, the position of (Forza Italia) is clear. We will always be with the EU and NATO,” he said.

Reaction to Sunday’s strong result for Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party was dampened by pillars of EU integration such as Paris and Berlin, but right-wing Warsaw and Budapest were warm in their congratulations.

Silvio Berlusconi has sparked anger by claiming Vladimir Putin was 'pushed' to invade Ukraine

Silvio Berlusconi has sparked anger by claiming Vladimir Putin was 'pushed' to invade Ukraine

Silvio Berlusconi has sparked anger by claiming Vladimir Putin was ‘pushed’ to invade Ukraine

The Italian leader and former prime minister is an old friend of Putin, and his comments are likely to alarm Western allies (pictured in 2015)

The Italian leader and former prime minister is an old friend of Putin, and his comments are likely to alarm Western allies (pictured in 2015)

The Italian leader and former prime minister is an old friend of Putin, and his comments are likely to alarm Western allies (pictured in 2015)

“We’ve never felt the need for friends who share a vision and a common approach to Europe,” the Hungarian government said, while Poland praised Meloni’s “great victory.”

“Hungary and Poland are more than happy with this election, firstly because it relieves pressure on their own countries in the EU, and secondly because it paves the way for a more united front,” said Yordan Bozhilov, director of the Bulgaria-based Think Tank Sofia Security Forum.

The Italian elections follow hard on the heels of a Swedish poll that also erupted on the far right.

But with the far right in power in one of the largest EU countries and founding members, Hungary and Poland could be much less isolated in their battles with Brussels over rule of law issues.

Moreover, Rome, Budapest and Warsaw are now ready for alignment on social issues, with anti-Islam, anti-abortion and anti-LGBT positions.

“Together we will defeat the cynical and spoiled Eurocrats who are destroying the European Union, violating treaties, destroying our civilization and advancing the LGBT agenda!” Poland’s Deputy Agriculture Minister Janusz Kowalski tweeted in a message congratulating Meloni.

Meloni also shares the vision of her future allies of a Christian, white Europe made up of sovereign nations.

“Hungary and Poland are countries that want to change the EU from within, and they are not hiding it. So far they have not succeeded, but an attempt will certainly be made to create a Rome-Budapest-Warsaw axis,” said Tara Varma, director of the Paris office of the European Council for Foreign Relations.

But the demands of such parties have already been dampened in recent years by a full exit from the EU, “given the absolute cautionary tale that Brexit has been,” she added.

Instead, the axle in Brussels could become ‘spoilers, the sand in the gears’.

“One step forward, two steps back, they could prevent the EU from making progress while continuing to benefit from joint funds,” Varma said.

A Ukrainian freight train station in Kharkov has been reduced to rubble by Russian shelling today

A Ukrainian freight train station in Kharkov has been reduced to rubble by Russian shelling today

A Ukrainian freight train station in Kharkov has been reduced to rubble by Russian shelling today

A front based on values ​​can still fail when faced with today’s overriding concerns about the war in Ukraine and EU relations with Russia.

While Meloni has so far equaled Warsaw in showing support for Ukraine and for EU sanctions against Russia for its invasion of its neighbor, Hungarian leader Viktor Orban – close to President Vladimir Putin – is against.

“At some point, Meloni will have to choose between Poland and Hungary,” Varma predicted.

The leader of the Brothers of Italy is not expected to align her position with that of her junior coalition partners.

“As far as foreign policy is concerned, as far as we know, Meloni supports sanctions against Russia and the Brothers of Italy are closer to the Polish PiS (government party) than Hungary’s Fidesz,” said Hungarian analyst Patrik Szicherle.

Meloni has “sent Ukraine the right messages,” said Martin Quencez of the German Marshall Fund, pointing to Italy’s critical relationship with the US as a trusted NATO ally.

Once elected prime minister, she “has every reason to have good relations with Brussels, not to engage in battle,” said Paolo Modugno, professor of Italian civilization at Paris Sciences Po University.

Meloni ‘is very aware of the problems of the Italian public, their fear of inflation and the economic situation. It is urgent for her to manage the crisis, not to take ideological risks,” he added.

Analysts suggest that the choice of top ministers by the incoming government, especially in the finance and foreign ministries, will clearly indicate how Meloni intends to position itself in Europe.