ROME (AP) — Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni pledged Italy’s “strong commitment” to NATO and efforts to end Russia's invasion of Ukraine, taking a firm pro-alliance stance Thursday following the pro-Russia sentiments expressed by one of her governing coalition partners.
Meloni told NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg during a meeting at her office that the best way to defend European security was to remain united.
“Given our principal challenge today, Italy strongly supports the territorial integrity, sovereignty and freedom of Ukraine,” Meloni said with Stoltenberg at her side. “The political cohesion of the alliance and our full commitment to supporting the Ukrainian cause are, from our point of view, the best response that NATO allies can give.”
Meloni, who heads Italy’s first far-right-led government since the end of World War II, has strongly backed Ukraine in the war. Her two principal coalition allies, former Premier Silvio Berlusconi and League leader Matteo Salvini, have equivocated; they also have past ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In the days before Meloni received a mandate to form a government, Berlusconi boasted that he had reconnected with Putin and the two exchanged gifts of wine and “sweet” notes as the Russian leader celebrated his 70th birthday.
Meloni responded to Berlusconi’s comments by warning him there was no place in her government for anyone backing Russia.
Stoltenberg, for his part, thanked Meloni for Italy's commitments to date, which he said amounted to “hundreds of millions of euros” in humanitarian and financial support for Ukraine and heading up NATO's battle group in Bulgaria, among other alliance leadership roles.
The Associated Press