Italian Draghi secures support for government line on Ukraine | National policy

By NICOLE WINFIELD – Associated Press

ROME (AP) — Prime Minister Mario Draghi won Senate backing on Tuesday to continue backing Ukraine against Russia, following calls from the leadership of the 5-Star Movement for Italy to stop sending weapons and to focus more on diplomacy.

Draghi outlined Italy’s Ukraine policy and briefed senators on his recent visit to Kyiv alongside French and German leaders, ahead of the European Council later this week. Without providing new information on the weapons sent by Italy, Draghi thanked the senators for their “unified” support for the government line.

The government has not provided any information on the specific armaments it has supplied to Ukraine, citing state secrecy.

The 5-star leader, former Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, has openly called on Italy to stop sending arms to Ukraine, and the movement as a whole has demanded more parliamentary voice in shaping policy governmental.

The criticism created tension within Draghi’s broad coalition, of which the 5 stars are a part, but the stability of the government was not in question.

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On the contrary, the debate only served to highlight the divisions within the 5-stars themselves, given that their most prominent member of government, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, openly criticized his own party for its position in Ukraine.

According to Italian reports, Di Maio was considering leaving the movement, which would deal another blow to his credibility after a series of poor performances in recent local and administrative elections.

The 5 Stars started as an anti-establishment movement and was the biggest vote-giver in the 2018 parliamentary election. But it saw its popularity plummet in the years that followed as it sought to stay in power by forming coalitions with the right, the left and now with Draghi’s alliance, alienating many members of his base.

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