On Tuesday in Kyiv, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and pledged to continue providing military, budgetary, and humanitarian aid.
Meloni, who has been in office since October, has often expressed her desire to visit Ukraine to show her government's support.
The Italian leader arrived in Kyiv by train early on Tuesday, traveling from Poland, where she had met with Polish officials and reiterated Italy's unwavering support for Ukraine.
Italy, a NATO member, has given money and arms to Ukraine, and earlier this month it agreed to provide mobile surface-to-air missile systems developed jointly with France.
“I wanted to do it [come to Ukraine] to reiterate Italy’s full support for Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression and to reiterate that Italy does not intend to waver,” Meloni said during a joint press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
She also said that she was in favor of Ukraine joining the European Union and that she would work to make sure that any peace deal with Russia was made on Ukraine's terms, asserting that "a victory of Russia would not be peace" but rather "a prelude to the possible invasion of other European states."
Meloni's trip to demonstrate her support comes just one week after Silvio Berlusconi, a former prime minister of Italy and one of her coalition partners, spoke out in defense of Russia and boasted of his long friendship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Berlusconi blamed Zelenskyy for Russia's invasion of Ukraine, saying that he should have stopped attacking the contested Donbas region.
Meloni made a clear reference to her ally when she said that her coalition government, which has been in power since October, has remained "compact" in its support of Ukraine "despite some declarations."
However, during the news conference with Zelenskyy in Kyiv, Meloni declared that giving Ukraine military jets was "not on the table” for the moment, adding that any decision would be taken "in consultation with international partners."
Last month, Zelenskyy requested fighters from European leaders as Moscow seemed to be preparing for new offensives in Ukraine. Meloni’s statement came after days of rumors in Italy that Rome was considering supplying its aging AMX planes to help oppose the attack.
Press speculation that the planes might be delivered to Ukraine was bolstered on Tuesday when a junior foreign minister from Italy, Edmondo Cirielli, told the Rome newspaper Il Messaggero that "a dialogue concerning the AMX could be started; we will listen to Ukraine's request.”
The decision not to send AMX planes to Ukraine was supported by Vincenzo Camporini, a former head of the Italian armed forces and an analyst at the IAI think tank in Rome.
“The non-upgraded aircraft would be possible, but the time and cost to upgrade them to make them interoperable with today’s weaponry make the idea impractical and too costly,” according to Camporini.
Instead, the Italian prime minister said that Rome was considering sending additional air defense systems to Kyiv.
Meloni also said that Italy was planning to hold an international conference on the reconstruction of Ukraine in April.
“Rebuilding a destroyed building is a sign of hope,” she said. “And because speaking of Ukraine’s reconstruction means betting on the victory of Ukraine.”
Before meeting with Zelenskyy, Meloni traveled to Irpin, one of the first Ukrainian cities to be devastated, and Bucha, a suburb of Kyiv, where fleeing Russian soldiers massacred residents in last year’s failed attempt to take over the capital. She provided aid to residents of Irpin and signed a Ukrainian flag with the words, “At your side.”
“It’s different, seeing it with one’s own eyes. I will do everything to tell every Italian what I’ve seen,” she said.
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