Italy: what role did Putin play in the crisis?
A key question in the current campaign for the early elections in Italy is whether the Kremlin had a hand in the collapse of the Draghi government: according to the Italian daily La Stampa, a Russian diplomat met with an advisor to Lega leader Matteo Salvini at the end of May and asked him point-blank whether the party intended to withdraw its ministers from the coalition government. Salvini says the accusations are baseless but the press is alarmed.
Lega has some explaining to do
The editor-in-chief of La Stampa, Massimo Giannini, demands clarification:
“The confidential conversations between Antonio Capuano, the Lega's envoy, and Oleg Kostyukov, the number two at the Russian embassy in Rome, confirm the existence of a special link between the Kremlin and Lega. They also shed a new and different light on Draghi's fall. Consequently, Lega must explain once and for all to parliament and the country the nature of its 'dangerous relations' in foreign policy. ... What is clear beyond all doubt is that there are no 'dumb servants' of the left at La Stampa. And it is to be hoped that Russia has no 'useful idiots' in the Lega.”
Moscow wants to divide the EU and Nato
The Kremlin's goal is to torpedo Western unity by interfering in Italian domestic politics, La Repubblica explains:
“The 'long war' strategy explains Italy's value to the Kremlin: if the new government decides to stop supplying arms to Ukraine or to suspend the application of sanctions against Russia, this would have considerable repercussions for the Euro-Atlantic coalition, since thanks to Rome an unprecedented rift would be created within Nato and the EU. The narrative of another Europe could then be built on this, moving away from Brussels and Washington - with Italy and Hungary standing shoulder to shoulder.”
All Europe must be vigiliant
ABC warns Europe against Putin's subversive alliances with right and left-wing populist parties:
“The revelations in the Italian press about Lega's contacts with the Kremlin not only demonstrate Moscow's willingness to interfere in the domestic politics of liberal democracies but also confirm its plans to use populist parties in the EU - whether left-or right-wing - to cause rifts in Brussels. ... The Italians are not the only ones who should be worried. ... The European Union as a whole must be vigilant against Moscow's plan to destabilise it from within by collaborating with populism and exploiting the crisis and discontent that its war has already provoked.”