Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday spoke on the phone to Italian Premier Mario Draghi and thanked him for Italy’s support against Russian aggression in bolstering sanctions against Moscow, the president said on Twitter.
Zelensky tweeted: “Continued the dialog with Italian PM Mario Draghi. Briefed on the progress of reversing aggression of Russia. Grateful for Italy’s involvement in the investigation of Russia’s crimes against humanity. Also appreciate the principled support for toughening sanctions against the aggressor.”
Zelensky added: “Special thanks to Italy for sheltering more than 100,000 Ukrainians who were forced to flee their homes due to Russian aggression. The involvement of Italy in future Ukrainian security agreements was also discussed.” The premier’s office said the talks focused on the latest developments in the situation on the ground in Ukraine and assistance to the country. Draghi, it said, reaffirmed the Italian government’s full support for Kyiv authorities and Italy’s willingness to contribute to the search for a lasting solution to the crisis. Draghi said earlier this week he is mulling a visit to Kyiv after a planned upcoming trip to the White House. Zelensky and Draghi discussed a possible visit by the Italian PM Wednesday and agreed to discuss it again.
United States President Joe Biden will receive Draghi at the White House on May 10, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said Wednesday. Draghi’s visit “will reaffirm the deep bonds of friendship and partnership between the United States and Italy”, she went on to say. The premier’s office said the meeting “will be an opportunity to reaffirm the historic friendship and strong partnership between the two countries.” It said the meeting would focus on “coordination with the Allies on the measures to support the Ukrainian people and combat Russia’s unjustified aggression”.
Draghi was able to return to work at his office at Palazzo Chigi in Rome on Wednesday after testing negative for COVID-19, the government said. The premier went into self-isolation after testing positive for the coronavirus last week. Some 70,000 of the 101,000 Ukrainian refugees in Italy have asked for protection there, the interior ministry said Tuesday. Some 65,000 have requested temporary protection under EU norms while the rest have requested asylum, special protection or other forms of protection, it said. The majority of refugees are currently housed with families and acquaintances, then there is a quota that is housed by the voluntary sector, and a further 10,000 are accommodated in the extraordinary reception centres (CAS) and the reception and integration system (SAI) network.
There are some 3,100 unaccompanied minors: 2,600 are living with families while around 500 are in special facilities. There are over 101,000 Ukrainian refugees in Italy and four regions are under pressure, Civil Protection chief Fabrizio Curcio said recently. He stressed that a redistribution could be needed if numbers increased further.
The four regions feeling the pressure most are Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy, Lazio and Campania, said the civil protection chief. The main destinations declared by Ukrainian refugees upon entry into Italy are still Milan, Rome, Naples and Bologna, sources have said. Italy has strongly endorsed all Western sanctions against Ukraine and has voted to send successive shipments of military aid to Kyiv despite misgivings by some government partners.
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