The head of the Italian government Mario Draghi regretted on Sunday April 17 the apparent inefficiency of the “dialogue” with Vladimir Putin, noting that these contacts did not prevent ” the horror “ to continue in Ukraine. “I’m starting to think that those who say: + it’s useless for you to talk to him, you’re wasting time + are right”said Mario Draghi in an interview with the daily Il Corriere della Sera posted Sunday April 17.
These remarks particularly concern French President Emmanuel Macron, one of the few Western leaders, along with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to have spoken to Vladimir Putin several times after the outbreak of war on February 24.
→ DEBATE. War in Ukraine: Should we continue to talk with Vladimir Putin?
“I have always defended Macron and I continue to say that as the current president of the European Union, he is right to try all possible avenues of dialogue. But I feel like the horror of the war with its carnage, with what they did to children and women, is completely independent of statements and phone calls.” between the Kremlin and foreign powers, said Mario Draghi.
Italy reopens its embassy in Kyiv
“Until now, (Vladimir) Putin’s goal has not been the search for peace, but the attempt to destroy the Ukrainian resistance, to occupy the country and hand it over to a friendly government”he added, assuring that Italy remained ” close “ of its “Ukrainian friends”.
These statements come as Italy announced the reopening of its embassy in kyiv from Monday, April 18. The chairman of the council also defended the delivery of arms to the Ukrainians. Yes “sanctions are essential to weaken the aggressor, they fail to stop the troops in the short term. To do this, we must directly help the Ukrainians, and that is what we are doing. Not to do so would be to say to them: surrender, accept slavery and submission – a message contrary to our European values of solidarity”.
In function for fourteen months as president of the Council of Ministers in Rome, Mario Draghi has very strongly influenced the diplomatic line of his country vis-à-vis Moscow. Italy has long maintained close trade relations with Russia. Before the outbreak of war on February 24, this country also represented 45% of its gas imports.
Berlusconi distances himself from Putin
Right-wing and far-right political forces on the peninsula have also had ambiguous ties to Vladimir Putin. The former president of the Italian council Silvio Berlusconi, who was three times head of government between 1994 and 2011, maintained ties of personal friendship with him, going so far as to invite him on vacation to his luxurious villa in Sardinia.
Saturday April 9, he ended up distancing himself, saying to himself “deeply disappointed and pained by the behavior of Vladimir Putin”. The massacre in Boutcha, on the outskirts of kyiv, where the Russian army committed terrible abuses against the population, forced him to stand out. “Faced with the horror of the massacres of civilians in Boutcha and other localities, real war crimes, Russia cannot deny its responsibilities”said the former boss of the Italian right.
→ MAINTENANCE. War in Ukraine: “The crime against humanity is no less terrible than genocide”
Mario Draghi also has political parties in his government coalition that have long shown their support for Vladimir Putin: Matteo Salvini’s League and the 5 Star Movement of Luigi Di Maio, current Minister of Foreign Affairs.
A pro-European and Atlanticist diplomacy
Defending a diplomacy that is both pro-European and Atlanticist, Mario Draghi is undoubtedly sensitive to the offensive strategy of the United States towards Russia. He regularly takes part in the Quint », a discussion format bringing together the heads of state and government of the United States, France, Britain, Germany and Italy. His experience as a former president of the European Central Bank (ECB), which many credit with saving the eurozone during the sovereign debt crisis in the 2010s, gives him real authority.
At the end of February, Mario Draghi immediately took the measure of the invasion of Ukraine decided by Vladimir Putin, an aggression which violated international law and called into question the strategic balance of the continent. Two days after the outbreak of hostilities, a telephone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky convinced him not to stick to a median position. While his country was blocking a European project to disconnect seven Russian banks from the Swift clearing house, Mario Draghi decided by joining the majority. His about-face isolated Germany, which in turn gave in a few hours later.
→ READ. War in Ukraine: the noose of sanctions tightens around the Russian economy
One of Italy’s priorities is now to find alternatives to Russian gas. The president of the Italian council went in person to Algeria to sign a new contract with this country which was already its second supplier. Italy could also rapidly increase its gas deliveries from Azerbaijan, Tunisia and Libya, according to the government.