Italy ramps up support for Ukraine with new air defense systems ahead of G7


Italy, under the leadership of PM Giorgia Meloni, has greenlit a new military aid package for Ukraine, featuring SAMP/T air defense systems, as reported by La Repubblica, with the decision made in anticipation of the upcoming G7 summit set to commence on June 13 in Puglia.

Italy possesses five such SAM systems. One system previously lent to Slovakia might be redirected to Ukraine. Meanwhile, two systems will be deployed to secure the summit venue. Another system is currently stationed in Kuwait and will remain there, while a fourth system is held in reserve.

The move to bolster Ukraine's defenses is a response to escalating conflicts in eastern Ukraine, particularly around Chasiv Yar in the Donetsk Oblast.

Read also: Italy may be next country to conclude security agreement with Ukraine

The package, facing opposition from the far-right Lega party led by Matteo Salvini, is nonetheless expected to pass in the Italian Parliament. It may include artillery weapons, Stinger anti-aircraft missile systems, and possibly between 100 and 200 Storm Shadow missiles, though this latter addition faces uncertainty due to parliamentary resistance.

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico stated on March 3 that Italy would reclaim its air defense system from Slovakia as it is "needed elsewhere," raising concerns over the protection of strategic facilities, including nuclear power plants.

Additional air defense systems for Ukraine

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on April 3 that Western partners do not want to give Ukraine "five or seven" Patriots, although they have more than 100.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on April 6 that 25 Patriot systems or their equivalents are needed to fully protect Ukraine's airspace from Russian attacks.

Kuleba said on April 12 that Ukraine is currently in active negotiations with its allies to supply two Patriot batteries and one SAMP-T. The Foreign Ministry also argued that Russia would not have destroyed the Trypillia Thermal Power Plant if Ukraine had a sufficient number of Patriot systems.

Read also: Italy extends military support to Ukraine through 2024

Zelenskyy also commented on the Russian strike on Chernihiv on April 17 that killed 18 people and said that "this would not have happened if Ukraine had received enough air defense systems."

EU diplomacy chief Josep Borrell said on April 18 at a meeting of G7 foreign ministers that EU countries should send their air defense systems to strengthen Ukraine's air defense.

Helmut Rauch, head of Diehl Defence, the arms company that produces the IRIS-T SLM anti-aircraft missile system, said on April 18 that Ukraine would receive the new system "in the next few weeks."

At a meeting in Italy on April 19, G7 foreign ministers pledge to help Ukraine strengthen its air defenses.

The lower chamber of the U.S. Congress, the House of Representatives, adopted a bill providing over $60 billion in support for Ukraine on the evening of April 20. After Senate’s endorsement, U.S. President Joe Biden signed the bill into law on April 24.

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