Growing Frustration With Zelensky? Italy Under Pressure to End Support to Ukraine

Amid widespread anti-war protests in Rome, the Italian government could review its uninhibited support to the Ukraine and its President Volodymyr Zelensky, according to reports.

Ital'y new far right Prime Minister Georgia Meloni has officially said Rome would continue its support of Ukraine, but the popular mood in Italy is changing rapidly as inflation, skyrocketing energy prices and worsening economic outlook continue to scare common people.

The far-right in Italy have been less forthcoming that the earlier government in offering support to Ukraine but the new development could spell more trouble to Europe's unity on the Ukraine front.

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Tens of thousands of Italians took out a demonstration in Rome, urging the government to stop exporting weapons to Ukraine.

Protesters demanded the Meloni government to push for diplomatic efforts and urge Ukraine to start negotiations with Russia to stop the war. "More arms for hugs, no more wars!" read one of the banners held by the protesters.

Though Italy is a founding member of both the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU), Rome has been skeptical than other major EU capitals in offering unquestioned support to Kyiv.

The protests highlight the differences in the top rungs of Italian politics, Italian daily Il Sole 24 Ore reported, according to IANS. Not just the leaders of the far right government, even prominent Opposition figures have demanded a policy tweak as the disastrous war has gone into the ninth month. Former Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who is now a leading opposition figure, said that no more arms would be sent without parliamentary approval as this policy is "only leading toward escalation."

"We need a breakthrough toward a ceasefire and peace negotiations," Conte said.

Giorgia Meloni
Giorgia Meloni Twitter

The Rome rally was attended by more than 30,000 people. "The weapons were sent at the beginning on the grounds that this would prevent an escalation," one of the demonstrators said "Nine months later and it seems to me that there's been an escalation. Look at the facts: sending weapons does not help stop a war, weapons help fuel a war," the protester told AFP.

Meanwhile, the leader of the French Patriots party said the US is probably mulling withdrawal of support to Zelensky. "The American government is starting to get tired of Zelenskyy and is asking him to negotiate with Russia! When the US no longer needs its puppet, they will get rid of him, as always!" Florian Philippot, leader of the French Patriots party, tweeted.

His comment came even as the US media reported that President Joe Biden, who was instrumental in drumming up support for Zelensky in the beginning of the war, has been begun asking him to demonstrate a readiness to negotiate with Moscow.