Why are Italians against delivering arms to Ukraine?


According to the Prensa Latina, most Italians are against sending arms to support Ukraine. The poll carried out by the IPSOS company in February 2023 has shown that 45% are opposed to military aid for Ukrainians while only 34% encourage it. What are the reasons for such results – read our article.


The Russian impact

We have asked an expert and researcher of Italian foreign policy, a candidate of historical sciences, an associate professor at Borys Grinchenko Kyiv University and Kyiv National University of Economics, and an adjunct professor at the University of Bologna Victoria Vdovychenko what Italians think about supporting Ukraine.

The expert and researcher of Italian foreign policy Victoria Vdovychenko. Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfIgtLb-WPw&ab_channel=FESUkraine

“The number of Italians who do not support the provision of weapons to Ukraine indicates some trends, – she says. – It should be understood that the audience of the policy level is one coverage audience. It is necessary that Ukrainian experts, volunteers, and academic circles also work with their Italian counterparts at the level of analytical centers, universities, and public organizations. This particular niche has not been covered for many years. There are many reasons, including the fact that disinformation and Russian propaganda have long had a huge impact on Italy in general and on Italians in particular.”


How propaganda works in Italy

According to Victoria Vdovychenko, there are many messages that permeate the Italian informational environment. For example, when questioning why military aid is needed for Ukraine. Italians say: «We are for pacifism.» The concept of pacifism corresponds exactly to how their country was rebuilt after fascism. And it is precisely the parallel in the fact that there are different historical angles and realities that creates such an informational excuse.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with the Prime Minister of Italy Giuseppe Conte, February 2020. Source: https://www.president.gov.ua/en/news/volodimir-zelenskij-zustrivsya-z-premyer-ministrom-italiyi-59669

The second thing was inherent in the first months of a full-scale invasion. It was a quote from certain Italian politicians who did not believe in the atrocities that took place on Ukrainian soil and said that these were staged scenes. There is also disinformation, which is characteristic of various countries, mostly in the first months of the war: for example, the President of Ukraine is not actually legitimately elected. These messages are now not spoken about directly, but they remain in the informational space.

“In addition, we are currently observing the informational imposition of fatigue from Ukraine, the absence of a peace agreement, and a lack of understanding of what is happening there and why Ukraine should be in the EU or NATO. These are the key things and they will be decisive in the spring-summer of 2023,” – the expert says.

Adolfo Urso, the chairman of the Parliamentary Committee for the Security of the Republic of Italy, said that Italy is at the center of a disinformation campaign. He also added that “the disinformation machine has been active for at least ten years, moreover it is a fundamental element of the so-called “Gerasimov doctrine” made public in 2013, close to the first Russian invasion of Ukraine. It acted effectively during the pandemic, as they denounced in a document of May 2020, obviously it is in the field even more today in an attempt to condition Italian choices which are fundamental for the stability of the Western defense”.

A woman holds a placard reading «Peace = Stop Putin» during a rally in support of Ukraine at Arco della Pace in Milan, Italy. Photo Getty Images. Source: https://www.npr.org/2022/11/10/1135146431/italy-ukraine-support-military-aid-russia-war

It is worth adding, the close ties between Italy and Russia are based on centuries of political, economical, and cultural exchange. Besides, the right-wing block won the Italian election in 2022 while the right-wing politicians are historically pro-Russian in this country. 

“Yes, the position of the Prime Minister of Italy, Joseph Giorgia Meloni, is pro-Ukrainian and pro-European. But even in her environment, among her fellow party members, there are people who are very critical of such very open support for Ukraine,” – Victoria Vdovychenko adds.

It is also important to note that there was a scandal in the Italian media connected with the ban of some Italian journalists in Ukraine. These journalists were known for their coverage of the war in Ukraine as a “civil war” in 2015 and other pro-Russian narratives like showing Russian aggression against Ukraine as a conflict between brothers in 2022.


Does Italy help Ukraine?

Italy has approved five military support packages for the Ukrainian defense, including both lethal and non-lethal equipment based on the needs of Ukraine’s Armed Forces. In February 2023 it was also reported about the sixth military aid package. Italy has 7th place in the ranking of countries giving the biggest military aid to Ukraine with 0.7 billion of support.

M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System. Source: https://www.hobbylinna.fi/en/product/1:35-m270-a1-multiple-launch-rocket-system-us/G9361049

The Italian aid includes towed artillery, self-propelled artillery, multiple rocket launchers, Surface-To-Air Missile (SAM) Systems, vehicles, man-portable air defense systems, anti-tank weapons, small arms, ammunition, and miscellaneous equipment. According to the Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ignat’s statement from February 2023, the air defense systems and artillery are among the most needed weapons for Ukraine. The country also demands the most planes and long-range ballistic and cruise missiles. 

Italian M109L 155 mm self-propelled (SP) artillery system. Source: https://www.janes.com/defence-news/news-detail/leonardo-testing-upgraded-m109l-sp-artillery-system

Besides, there are about 52 million in humanitarian support and 310 million in financial commitments given from Italy to Ukraine. Generally, the Republic of Italy is one of the top 10 countries with the biggest amount of money donated to help with the war. At the same time, this country has received more than 172 000 Ukrainian refugees. An additional 800 million has been allocated to help them.

Italy also supports Ukraine diplomatically, also introducing sanctions against Russia and Belarus. This country voted for all of Ukraine’s UN resolutions, condemning Russian aggression. 

More details about how Italy helps Ukraine can be read here.


Alina Kuvaldina

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