Bullet riddled sign in Donbass region. Russia invades Ukraine

Draghi: Russia offensive takes us back to Europe’s darkest days


Italy’s Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, said on Friday the attack by Russia on Ukraine “takes us back to the darkest days of European history”.

Reporting to the Lower House Draghi said, “The offensive has already hit the Ukraine population in a tragic way. The Ukraine interior ministry has registered civilian victims. The images we see of defenceless citizens forced to hide in bunkers and metro stations are terrible”.

He also called for Moscow to withdraw its troops and return to the negotiating table.

Related article: How Italy responded to Russian invasion

Wish for a diplomatic solution

“The Italian government, together with its international partners, has always hoped to resolve the crisis in a peaceful way and via diplomacy,” Draghi said. “All dialogue, however, must be honest and, above all, useful. The violence of the last few weeks by Russia makes dialogue of this kind impossible.

“Our priority must be to strengthen the security of our continent and apply the maximum pressure on Russia so that it withdraws its troops and returns to the negotiating table”.

Italy says it’s in line with EU

Draghi said Rome was “perfectly in line with the other European Union countries; France and Germany first and foremost” on sanctions against Russia.

“Following the Russian invasion of a few days ago, yesterday’s European Council approved highly stringent, incisive measures that had been in preparation for weeks,” Draghi said.

 “The relative legislative acts are currently being discussed in Brussels and for this reason I am not able to outline them in an exhaustive way… The measures have been coordinated together with our G7 partners, with whom we fully agree on the strategy and objectives”.

Russia is an important trading partner for Italy, so the sanctions will also affect Italian business in a big way. This is most likely the reason that Italy, long with Germany and Cyprus – as The Guardian reported – voted against blocking Russia’s access to the SWIFT banking system.

Germany and Italy rely heavily on Russian economic ties and for gas supplies.

Possible re-opening of coal energy plants

The impact on the Italian economy and the energy sector is a particular concern. As a result, Draghi stated it may be necessary to reopen coal-fired power plans to meet the nation’s energy demands.

This would prove to be a huge setback to Italy’s efforts to cut its greenhouse-gas emissions. Draghi continued, “The greatest concern regards the energy section, which has already been hit by price increases in recent months. About 45% of the gas that we import comes from Russia, up from 27%, 10 years ago.

 “It could be necessary to reopen coal plans to cover eventual shortfalls in the immediate term.”

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