Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Amid Ukraine pressures at home, Italian PM heads to White House

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi is set to meet US President Joe Biden at the White House, where war in Ukraine, and diverging domestic pressures when it comes to supporting Kyiv, are expected to top discussions.

The meeting on Tuesday came as Draghi, who has taken a hard line against Russia, contends with growing dissent among leaders in his coalition about supplying more Italian weapons to Ukraine, with former Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, whose 5-Star Movement is the largest party in parliament, calling on the prime minister to seek a diplomatic solution to the war rather than send “heavier and more lethal weapons” that could further escalate the conflict.

For his part, Draghi has pushed for a truce, even if it’s limited, between Russia and Ukraine to allow talks aimed at ending the conflict to resume. However, he ignored Conte’s requests for him to address parliament before the Washington trip to clarify the Italian position that he planned to present to Biden.

Statements by Biden and his top officials, meanwhile, have been more aggressive, suggesting a larger goal of weakening Russia. Biden is currently seeking $40bn more from the US legislature to support Ukraine, including with military equipment. The US has already provided more than $3.8bn in direct military aid to Ukraine.

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