A provocative remark by Russia Embassy in Italy on social media on the same day that the Italian Parliament was debating whether or not to continue supplying armaments to Ukraine added gasoline to the flames of an ongoing political dispute in Italy. By December 31, the new regulation is expected to have extended the period during which Ukraine might receive guns and other equipment for another year. The left has expressed strong opposition to the proposal and has accused parties affiliated with the administration of attempting to ram through a resolution to continue selling arms to Kyiv through Parliament without conducting an adequate debate on the matter.
“Made in Italy. Lince MLV armoured car delivered to the Ukrainian army near Artyomovsk (Bakhmut). Are all Italian taxpayers happy with this destination of their money?” wrote the Moscow embassy in Rome on Facebook in the footnote to a photo showing a destroyed armoured car. The image is taken from above, probably from a drone; the vehicle appears almost crushed to the ground, the tires flat and stuck in the mud, in the middle of a street in what seems to be a bombed and deserted village, among tiny wooden houses which are shattered.
The Russian diplomatic headquarters, which is not new to making similarly macabre and sarcastic statements, believe that it is a Lince armoured car that was purchased with Italian money and then shipped to Kyiv.
The Italian government has supplied Vehículo Ligero Multipropósito (MLV) “Lince” as a part of its military equipment aid to Ukraine. Iveco LMV, which stands for “Light Multirole Vehicle,” is a four-wheel drive tactical vehicle designed by Iveco and is currently used by many nations, including Russia. In the past, Russia signed contracts for 200 vehicles of this kind.
MLS SHIELD 4×4 armoured vehicle and not Iveco LMV Lince
However, a site of defence experts, Ukraine Weapons Tracker, had already posted the same image a day earlier explaining that it was a Ukrainian MLS Shield armoured multipurpose vehicle. Local volunteers purchased eleven vehicles of this model in Italy, and one of them was impacted by a Russian Grad missile in the country’s east, where the front has stalled in recent weeks but continues to claim lives. The weapons tracking site in Ukraine relates to the eleven Shield armoured vehicles Italy purchased from former Ukrainian president Pedro Poroshenko last summer, using a portion of its finances and proceeds from popular fundraising.
In addition, according to the website, the car in the shot sustained minimal damage, shielded the crew, and was later recovered. It would not be an issue of a Lynx, as indicated by the Moscow embassy, but rather another attempt by Russian propaganda to divide Italian public opinion on whether to continue giving Kyiv free military aid.
Opposition to the shipment of arms to Ukraine
According to RIA Novosti, which cited sources within the Italian Parliament, representatives of the parties that make up the ruling majority in Italy, known as “Brothers of Italy,” “League,” and “Forward, Italy,” had created a proposal of a joint parliamentary resolution that would provide for the continuation of comprehensive assistance, including military aid, to Ukraine in the year 2023.
On Tuesday, the resolution was submitted to the Chamber of Deputies, where a discussion of this topic, which generated significant debate in the Apennines, took place.
Several parties, including the most prominent opposition 5-Star Movement, oppose new arms supplies to Kyiv. It was reported that there is no consensus on this matter even within the ruling centre-right coalition, in which the League has doubts about supplying Kyiv with weapons and partially representatives of the Forward Italy party.
Earlier, the forces of opposition, including the 5 Star Movement, the association of the centrist parties “Action” and “Living Italy,” and the alliance of the left and the “greens,” sent the lower chamber three different resolutions on this matter.
Stalled arms supply to Ukraine
On November 10, faced with massive opposition in the country, Defense Minister Guido Crosetto said in an interview with Il Messaggero newspaper that Italy is not preparing new arms supplies for Ukraine.
“We are not preparing the sixth package (an interdepartmental decree with a list of weapons for Kyiv. – Ed.) and are not talking about the supply of missiles to Ukraine. I do not exclude that in the future, there will be a new order within NATO and the European Union on further military assistance to Ukraine, but for now, we are completing the supply of weapons promised by the previous government,” he said.
According to a survey in March by the sociological group OMG, 55% of Italian citizens oppose the supply of weapons to Ukraine, while 33% of citizens hold the opposite point of view. The rest of the respondents refrained from answering. In the same month, the trade unions stopped loading the military equipment into the aircraft meant for Ukraine.
The use of decrees
In March, the Italian Parliament approved a government decree that called for various aid to be delivered to Ukraine, including the shipment of weapons. The order also permitted the provision of many other types of support. So that the Senate could approve it, the government of Mario Draghi was compelled to attach the acceptance of this document to a vote of confidence in the Cabinet of Ministers. This was necessary because the general public and several members of Parliament had differing opinions on the document. After that, the government passed five other decrees that were similar to the first without putting them to a vote in Parliament. Instead, they exclusively discussed this matter in the parliamentary committee on the security of the republic (Copasir), whose sessions are secret.