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Ukraine can count on Italy, Meloni say

Ukrainian experts arrive in Poland after missile blast: Ukrainian minister
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Ukraine can count on Italy’s support in the war with Russia, far-right leader Giorgia Meloni said after her victory in elections, which looks set to install a Eurosceptic government in Rome.

“You know that you can count on our loyal support for the cause of freedom of Ukrainian people. Stay strong and keep your faith steadfast!” Meloni tweeted in English to President Volodymyr Zelensky late on Tuesday.

She was responding to a message sent by Zelensky congratulating her on the historic election by her post-fascist Brothers of Italy party in Sunday’s vote, which makes her favourite to become the next prime minister.

“We appreciate Italy’s constant support for Ukraine in the fight against Russian aggression. We are counting on a productive partnership with the new Italian government,” he had tweeted.

Outgoing Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has been one of the strongest backers of EU sanctions against Russia over Ukraine, and Rome has sent weapons to help Kyiv.

Despite her Euroscepticism, Meloni has firmly supported Draghi’s position, but her government allies, far-right League leader Matteo Salvini and former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, have long had warm ties with Moscow.

Draghi’s office on Wednesday denied a report in La Repubblica daily that he has been guaranteeing Italy’s European allies that a Meloni-led government would not present a radical break.

It said Draghi had told the leaders of France, Germany and the EU that Meloni had agreed to keep backing Ukraine, commit to Italy’s role in NATO and keep public debt under control.

These three points correspond to Meloni’s public statements, but Draghi’s office denied any pact with the far-right leader – who he is said to get on well with – or offer of guarantees.

“The prime minister maintains regular contact with international interlocutors to discuss the major issues on the agenda and remains committed to an orderly transition,” a spokesman said.

Draghi – who as a former president of the European Central Bank has good relationships with many world leaders – has already sought in general terms to reassure allies about the prospect of a far-right government in Rome.

“In the next few years, Italy will continue to be a protagonist of European life, close to NATO allies, open to listening and to dialogue, determined to contribute to international peace and security,” he told the UN General Assembly in New York last week.

Meloni also responded to congratulations sent by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, tweeting: “Let’s defend together our common values and European security.”

In response to congratulations from new UK Prime Minister Liz Truss, she said she was “ready to cooperate with you and your government for freedom, democracy, security and prosperity of our nations”.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French state-owned international news agency based in Paris. It is the world's oldest news agency, having been founded in 1835 as Havas.

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