On Thursday, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi called for a ceasefire in Ukraine and for peace talks between Kyiv and Moscow as European calls for a negotiated settlement to the war continue to grow.
Having earlier discouraged negotiating with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Draghi has changed his tune in recent weeks. “We have to achieve a ceasefire as soon as possible to stop the humanitarian crisis from getting worse and get negotiations going again,” Draghi told Italy’s parliament.
Draghi met with President Biden in Washington last week and told him it was time to start thinking about a peace deal. “That is the position of Italy, of the EU and one that I shared with Biden,” he said.
The Italian leader said he still favored sanctions on Russia to bring them to the negotiating table and signaled that Italian weapons shipments to Ukraine would continue even though opinion polls show there is little public support in Italy for arming Kyiv.
According to The Times, a recent poll found that 46% of the people asked favored Russia being given Crimea and the territory it has captured since February as a way to stop the war. Only 23% thought Ukraine should fight to regain the territory it has lost.
Draghi is also under pressure from his own ruling coalition to stop arming Ukraine. The leaders of the right League party and the Five Star Movement have come out against sending weapons. So far, Italy has sent Ukraine Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, anti-tank weapons, and machine guns.
Draghi is not alone in his view on negotiations, as French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also favor peace talks. France, Germany, and Italy represent the three most populous countries in the EU, but many NATO members still favor pumping weapons into Ukraine over negotiations, including the US, Britain, Poland, and the Baltic states.