Italian FM points finger at Russia over government crisis – Reuters

Opponents of beleaguered Prime Minister Mario Draghi are doing Vladimir Putin’s job, Italian foreign minister says

The ongoing government crisis in Italy is playing into the hands of the Kremlin, said Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio. The unrest is hampering Rome’s ability to provide military support to Ukraine, as well as secure new energy contracts, the minister told POLITICO in an interview on Friday.

Critics of beleaguered Prime Minister Mario Draghi are effectively doing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s job, Di Maio suggested, urging Italy’s political parties not to topple the government in an upcoming vote of confidence next week. Draghi was among Western leaders to strongly oppose Russia over its military operation in Ukraine, the minister said.

“The Russians are celebrating right now for bringing down another western government,” said Di Maio. “Now I doubt we can send arms [to Ukraine]. This is one of many serious problems.

The Italian government fell into disarray earlier this week when Draghi faced a vote of confidence in parliament. Although he comfortably survived by 172 votes to 39, the poll was boycotted by the Five Star Movement, the largest party in Draghi’s broad governing coalition.

The prime minister announced his resignation after the vote, citing the loss of support from the largest coalition partner and saying the conditions for governing “does not exist anymore.” His resignation, however, was rejected by Italian President Sergio Mattarella. Draghi is expected to return to parliament on Wednesday, potentially holding a vote on his government or stepping down again.

The prime minister, who previously headed the European Central Bank, was appointed Italy’s prime minister in early 2021 in a bid to help the country deal with the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. However, he has faced persistent criticism from Five Star Movement leader and former Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on a number of issues. Tensions escalated over Italy’s support for anti-Russian sanctions and support for kyiv, eventually causing a split within the Five Star Movement.

Di Maio said Conte’s actions were what “hurts him the most.”

“What’s incredible is that this is a former prime minister attacking Draghi, helping Putin’s propaganda and autocracy on democracy,” said the minister.

Political unrest is also causing problems for Italy itself, Di Maio continued, as the potential fall of the government would jeopardize Rome’s ability to secure new energy contracts before winter.

“If the government falls on Wednesday, we will not have the power to sign new energy contracts and that is serious because we are heading into winter,” explained the minister.

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