Thursday, March 23

Putin’s shadow hangs over Draghi’s resignation

  • After the resignation of the Italian prime minister, the Russian foreign spokeswoman suggests to Italy a government “that does not serve the interests of the Americans”

  • The epilogue is another chapter of the estrangement from Russia and Italy, a country that once had a privileged link with Moscow.

Thursday night, on the Telegram channel of Dmitry Medvedev, a ‘meme’ appeared. In this you could see the face of the resigning British Prime Minister Boris Johnsonthen the Italian mario draghi, who has also followed the same path as his colleague from the United Kingdom, and then a large question mark in the next box. Medvedev, today vice president of the Russian Security Council, reacted like this, about an hour after the transalpine prime minister announced his intention to resign as head of the Italian Executive. A provocation that was enough for the clash between rome and moscow become poisonous and notorious.

Mario Draghi has taken steps towards distancing Italy from Russia. But this earned him one of the first major confrontations with the 5-Star Movement (M5E), the formation that can now bring down his government and that opposed the delivery of weapons to Ukraine. Still, Draghi defended those shipments to kyiv, and also launched a strategy to seek alternatives to Italy’s dependence on Russian gas. The agreements to increase gas from Algeria, a country to which the Italian leader will travel this coming Monday, is an example. In this way, Draghi reduced the dependence on Moscow from 40% to 25%, this figure still being problematic if Moscow decides to completely cut off supplies to Italy.

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Luigi Di Maio, the Italian foreign minister, has said that “in Moscow they are now celebrating because Draghi has resigned. Autocracies: 1. Democracies: 0,” he said. “Medvedev has toasted, he has been happy because they have given him the Draghi’s head to (Russian President Vladimir) Putin,” he continued. The retort came just as quickly, through the mouth of Maria Zajarova, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman. “Given that the Italian foreign minister allowed himself to mention Russia in the framework of his government crisis, I reply that I wish the Italian people a government that deals with solving the problems created by its predecessors and that does not serve the interests of the Americans”Zajárova said, speaking to the Italian agency AGI. Russia “tries to destabilize the European Union (EU) and its member states,” continued, for his part, the spokesman for the European Foreign Service, Peter Stano, when asked about the issue.

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Unusually harsh and clear words that reflect the poor state of relations between Russia and European countries due to the war in Ukraine, many of which have approved sanctions against Moscow or sent weapons to support the Ukrainian army. But also words between two countries that have had links even during the Cold War (at that time, through the now defunct Italian Communist Party (the PCI, one of the most influential in Western Europe), but later, today, through contacts between different political forces (Matteo Salvini, of the ultra-nationalist League, has been one of the most active in recent years).And all this added to the deep-rooted economic relationship russian-italian, now damaged by the conflict started by Putin in Ukraine.

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An example, based on figures from Eurostat requested by EL PERIÓDICO: from 2012 to 2021, the total value of exports from Italy to Russia was equivalent to 8.2 billion euros per year on average. Being this quantity much higher than that of countries such as Spain (2.1 billion on average) and France (6.1 billion), and lower than that of Germany (27.4 billion). Which explains the different economic impact of the crisis with Moscow, even more so than, in the case of Italy, much of the damage has affected strategic industries for the country’s economy transalpine: the textile sector, the food sector, and the machinery production sector. In the same way, but in reverse, Moscow also once had a great buyer in Italy, that is before the batteries of sanctions against Russia.

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