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UKRAINE

Italy condemns Russian invasion of Ukraine and summons ambassador

Italy on Thursday summoned the Russian ambassador after the Kremlin launched an air and ground assault on Ukraine, which Prime Minister Mario Draghi said was an "unjustified and unprovoked aggression".

Italy condemns Russian invasion of Ukraine and summons ambassador
Ukrainian security personnel inspect the remains of a shell in a street in Kyiv on February 24, 2022. Photo by Sergei Supinsky / AFP

Moscow’s “extremely serious” attack on the former Soviet republic was “a clear and distinct violation of international law,” Italy’s foreign ministry said.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi on Thursday described Russia’s attack on Ukraine as “unjustified and unjustifiable,” saying Europe and NATO were working on an immediate response.

EXPLAINED: How Italy could be impacted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

“The Italian Government condemns Russia’s attack on Ukraine. It is unjustified and unjustifiable. Italy is close to the Ukrainian people and institutions in this dramatic moment. We are working with European and NATO allies to respond immediately, with unity and determination,” Draghi said in a statement.

Draghi called a meeting of the government’s security committee over the offensive, which was launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin in the early hours of Thursday after a surprise televised address.

Support for Ukraine will be on the agenda at an emergency summit to be held in Brussels late Thursday.

The summit follows the EU’s adoption of sanctions against Russia for declaring pro-Moscow separatist regions of Ukraine to be independent and mandating military forces to enter them.

Overnight, the Kremlin said the heads of eastern Ukraine’s rebel republics had asked Russian President Vladimir Putin for “help” to “repel aggression” from the Ukrainian army.

Unlike most of its Western neighbours, Italy has historically relatively friendly ties with Putin, backed by strong, long-standing investments by Italian corporations in Russia.

Putin recently stressed the importance of energy industry ties between Russia and Italy, which is one of the European countries most reliant on imports of natural gas.

But since becoming prime minister in February 2021, Draghi has emphasised Italy’s commitments to the EU and NATO.

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UKRAINE

Italy to send missile systems to Ukraine

Italy and France have together agreed to deliver mobile surface-to-air missile systems to Ukraine, the French defence ministry said on Friday.

Italy to send missile systems to Ukraine

The systems, called MAMBA or SAMP/T, are a vehicle-mounted battery of medium-range missiles designed to offer protection from airborne threats such as missiles and manned or unmanned aircraft.

The missile systems, jointly developed by NATO members France and Italy, will help Ukraine “defend itself against Russian drones, missiles and aircraft”, the ministry said.

The deliveries were a response to an urgent request by Ukraine’s defence minister Oleksiy Reznikov made to his French and Italian counterparts to assist with “the protection of civilian populations and infrastructure from Russian air attacks”, it said in a statement.

During a visit by Reznikov to Paris on Tuesday, French Defence Minister Sebastien Lecornu had already announced that his country would ship 12 more Caesar truck-mounted howitzers and fresh air defence equipment to Ukraine.

France has yet to commit to sending Leclerc main battle tanks to Ukraine, another insistent request by Kyiv.

The MAMBA delivery had been under discussion for several weeks, and was finalised Friday in a phone call between Cornu and his Italian counterpart, Guido Crosetto, the statement said.

The systems, similar to the American Patriot systems, are to be delivered in the spring, the French ministry said.

One MAMBA was last year deployed in Romania, a NATO member sharing a border with Ukraine. With its range of 100 kilometres (62 miles) “we can fight a wide range of airborne threats”, a member of the French military with experience of the system told AFP in December.

These include short-range ballistic missiles, fighter planes, helicopters, drones “and even salvos of cruise missiles with multiple warheads”.

France has also promised to ship a radar system of the Ground Master 200 type made by French defence contractor Thales to Ukraine.

The radar allows detection of enemy airborne forces at 250 kilometres, and fight them at 100 kilometres. The radar, which can be moved by truck, also detects mortar and artillery fire at launch, acting as an early warning system.

READ MORE: IN PICTURES: Thousands in Italy march for peace in Ukraine

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