Despite concerns about the victory of the centre-right coalition in Italy and accusations of fascism levelled at the leader of the sovereignist Fratelli d’Italia party, Giorgia Meloni, the winner of the September 25th parliamentary elections was quick to reassure international opinion by unambiguously affirming her support for Ukraine in its conflict with Russia.
The initiative came from President Zelensky on Twitter: as soon as the result of the Italian elections was known, he said he was ready to implement “fruitful cooperation” with the new government. Giorgia Meloni responded in English, still on Twitter, in very explicit terms: “You know that you can count on our loyal support for the cause of freedom of the Ukrainian people. Stay strong and keep your faith steadfast!”
Since the beginning of the war in February 2022, Giorgia Meloni has encouraged the Italian initiatives implemented by Mario Draghi’s previous government to support the Ukrainian war effort—even when she was in opposition to the government itself—like the delivery of arms to the Ukrainian army.
Meloni distinguished herself from her two allies in the centre-right coalition, Matteo Salvini’s Lega and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, who were much more cautious on the subject, by virtue of their relatively good relations with Vladimir Putin in the past.
Berlusconi was able to point out, for example, that Vladimir Putin had been ‘pushed’ into invading Ukraine, thereby highlighting a form of responsibility of the international community for the escalation that led to the Russian offensive. Salvini, for his part, did not hesitate a few months ago to wear a T-shirt bearing the image of Putin. In the spring, he tried to make people forget his benevolence towards the Russian regime by going to the Polish border to welcome Ukrainian refugees, but he was put in his place by the Polish authorities, who humiliatingly displayed the famous T-shirt. Since this incident, he has also been very critical of sanctions and their consequences for Europeans.
For its part, the Kremlin has taken note of Giorgia Meloni’s victory. Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Russia was keen to build “constructive relations” with the new Italian government, hoping it would be “able to overcome the established mainstream full of hatred” towards Moscow.
Enrico Letta, the leader of the Partito Democratico, had played provocateur during the legislative campaign by telling his opponent Meloni: “With Putin or with Europe. Choose.” Meloni clearly chose, in favour of Europe.