Italy to Take a New Stance on Negotiations with Russia?

Two components of the new government coalition in Italy have broken ranks with transatlantic “unity”. Both the Lega, by way of its Senate leader Massimiliano Romeo, and Forza Italia, via its founder and historical leader Silvio Berlusconi, have called for negotiations with Moscow on ending the war in Ukraine.

Berlusconi had already briefed the FI parliamentary group in a closed door session on his position on the war, provoking a political shock when the briefing was leaked to the media (cf. SAS 43/22). The former PM reiterates his views in an interview contained in journalist Bruno Vespa’s new book, which hits the bookshops on Nov. 4.

According to a preview, Berlusconi believes that the prospect of a cut-off of military aid, coupled with the offer of a large reconstruction fund as stimulus, could convince Kiev to agree to talks with Moscow. In addition, he says, Ukraine should recognize Crimea as a Russian territory, and a new referendum that would involve Western observers should be held in Donbass to determine its fate. Berlusconi also described Vladimir Putin as “a man of peace.”

As for Lega Senate leader Massimiliano Romeo, during the confidence vote debate in the Senate on Oct. 26, he had requested from Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni an “act of courage” — i.e., that she push for an international conference on defense and security in Europe, to make Italy capable of “conditioning the international geopolitical scenario,” and not merely promising unconditional support to Ukraine.

France, Germany and Italy are among the countries that, “in the face of an incessant conflict, risk the most”, Romeo explained. The conference, the senator suggested, could be an opportunity to set up peace negotiations, “since now, even the United States is realizing that this may be a road to be taken.”

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