Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Luigi Di Maio visited Kyiv on Feb. 15 to hold talks with Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba ahead of planned talks in Moscow with Sergey Lavrov on Feb. 16. 

Di Maio and Kuleba discussed the security situation around Ukraine, but also economic and institutional cooperation within the framework of “excellent bilateral relations”.

During their meeting, Kuleba stressed that given the important ties between Italy and Russia, Di Maio could help lever a peaceful resolution to the current crises.

“The most important thing is to understand is that the situation is a threat not only to Ukraine, but to Europe and Atlantic partners, too” said Kuleba.

Di Maio expressed “closeness to the government and the Ukrainian people” and confirmed Italy’s “firm and constant support to the integrity and full sovereignty of Ukraine, including its choices in international politics.”

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He noted that the Italian Embassy in Kyiv remains open and fully operational.

Di Maio confirmed that Italy will support deterrence mechanisms coordinated by EU and NATO partners, but that diplomacy can be the only peaceful way to avoid a conflict.

“After today’s talks, I can affirm that there is room for a diplomatic solution, but must be shared and fit within the framework of the broader scope of European security,” he added.

Di Maio also stressed that “it is essential to keep a channel of dialogue with Russia, in the format of the NATO-Russia council” and that Italy continues to support negotiations in the Normandy format, hoping that a summit of the four participants, namely France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine, will be held soon.

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To resolve a crisis that would have unpredictable consequences for the continent, only “concrete and sincere efforts” by all, and “especially the most engaged countries”, is required, Di Maio concluded.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi had a call with Ukrainian President Zelensky Feb. 15, in which Draghi reiterated his government’s firm support to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

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The two sides agreed on the importance of a common effort to find a sustainable and durable solution and to push for dialogue with Moscow. They also announced that Draghi would visit Kyiv soon.

 

 

 

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