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26 Feb, 2024 03:02

Zelensky asks Italy to expel ‘Putin supporters’

The Ukrainian leader claims that pro-Russian sentiment in Europe endangers the delivery of weapons to Kiev
Zelensky asks Italy to expel ‘Putin supporters’

Italy should revoke the visas of people with “pro-Putin” views to make sure they do not disrupt the delivery of Western military aid to Kiev, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky said at a press conference on Sunday. He made the comments a day after signing a security agreement with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni during her visit to the Ukrainian capital.

A reporter for Italian daily Corriere della Sera asked Zelensky whether people in Europe that are sympathetic towards Russian President Vladimir Putin could “complicate” the flow of weapons to Ukraine.

“I’m very thankful to your prime minister. She’s on our side, and I’m happy with the accord that we signed yesterday, but you are right: there are a lot of pro-Putin [people] in Italy. First of all, you have to cancel their visas,” Zelensky responded in English. He went on to urge Italy to provide more weapons, including anti-air missile systems.

Kiev frequently accuses its critics in Europe and the US, including politicians and people such as tech billionaire Elon Musk, of spreading “Russian propaganda.”

Last month, the Ukrainian Embassy in Rome protested several events dedicated to its ongoing conflict with Russia. In one case, a school in the Lazio region organized an online conference with a school from Russia’s Lugansk People’s Republic, which Ukraine views as “occupied territory.”

Ukrainian diplomats also complained about a planned exhibition and conference in Modena dedicated to the reconstruction and recovery of the Donbass city of Mariupol, which was captured by Russia in 2022 after months of fierce fighting. The organizers described Mariupol as “a symbol of the popular revolt against the junta in Kiev.” The mayor canceled the event, arguing that it would be seen as “open support” for Russia’s military operation in the neighboring state.