On Tuesday, prime minister Draghi addressed the Italian senate on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He said it “marks a turning point in European history”.
In his speech to the Italian senate, premier Mario Draghi said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “marks a turning point in European history”.
Over recent decades many “were under the illusion” Europe would no longer face war, said Draghi. The peace and security enjoyed for some time were taken for granted thanks to the “enormous sacrifices” of preceding generations.
However, “the images that come to us from Kyiv, Kharkiv, Maripol and other cities in Ukraine fighting for Europe’s freedom mark the end of these illusions”, he continued.
“The heroic resistance of the Ukrainian people, of their president Zelenskyy, confronts us with a new reality and forces us to make choices that were unthinkable just a few months ago.”
Italy “does not intend to look the other way”
Draghi reiterated Italy’s solidarity with Ukraine, expressing his closeness to the 236,000 Ukrainian people resident in Italy. They are living through a “dramatic” time as they worry over the fate of their loved ones.
“Italy is grateful to you for the contribution you make every day to the life of our country – we are at your side.”
The prime minister also condemned Russia’s “premeditated and unjustified aggression” against Ukraine, saying it is “not just an attack on a free and sovereign country, but an attack on our values of freedom and democracy.”
He further said that Vladimir Putin’s decision to put his country’s nuclear forces on high alert is “extreme blackmail” that requires a “rapid, firm, united reaction”.
Need to keep dialogue open
Further sanctions against Russia could be on the way. That would include intensifying pressure on Moscow’s central bank and targeting the assets of oligarchs.
However, he stressed it was “essential to keep the path to dialogue with Moscow open.” He also noted: “While we condemn Putin’s position, we must remember that this is not a confrontation with the nation and its citizens, many of whom do not approve of their government’s actions.”
Italian residents in Ukraine
There are around 2,300 Italians in Ukraine, of which more than 1,600 are residents. Draghi repeated the advice of the foreign ministry, urging Italians in Kyiv to leave the city while there is no curfew in place.
Draghi also thanked Italy’s ambassador to Ukraine, Pier Francesco Zazo, and the embassy staff for “the spirit of service, dedication and courage shown in these dramatic days.”