Will US news on Russia’s $300 million secret financing of foreign politics affect the make-up of Italy’s elected government?
The Russian covert financing of political parties and officials became a hot topic for the major media worldwide on September 13. Numerous readers have discovered that since 2014, Russia has surreptitiously donated at least $300 million to political parties, skewing opinions, authorities, and politicians in almost two dozen different nations. Russian plans to transfer hundreds of millions more with the ultimate aim of easing sanctions were also revealed by the news’s source, a US intelligence report prepared by the US State Department.
“An assault on sovereignty,” the US warns amidst Russian election interference
“The Kremlin and its proxies have transferred these funds to shape foreign political environments in Moscow’s favor”, – the report emphasizes.
On September 12th, the US State Department cabled American embassies all around the world with important talking points for US ambassadors to use when speaking with foreign leaders. The US Department of State’s spokesperson, Mr. Ned Price, stated the next day at the Department Press Briefing that Russian election intervention was “an assault on sovereignty,” much like Russia’s war in Ukraine.
“To fight this, in many ways we have to put a spotlight on it”, – Ned Price commented
According to US officials, the campaign to expose information concerning Russian political influence and meddling aims to increase democratic resilience around the globe. The information has been revealed to the public just ahead of the official visit to Washington by Senator Adolfo Urso, chair of the national security committee of the Italian parliament (COPASIR), and Giorgia Meloni’s trusted advisor in their party Fratelli d’Italia.
Information concerning Russian covert financing broke less than two weeks before important elections in Italy. Is it accidental or a deliberate warning? If it really is a warning, then who is it intended for?
Giorgia Meloni is now ahead in the polls and has a strong chance of becoming Italy’s next Prime Minister.
Adolfo Urso, her reliable colleague and supporter, had previously visited Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, just days before his trip to Washington.
“Italy supports Ukraine together with its European partners and Western allies”,
– Urso tweeted.
Urso reaffirmed his support for Ukraine and announced cooperative actions with the US
Upon his American visit, Urso stated that Fratelli d’Italia will continue to cooperate with the US in countering Russian and Chinese expansionism in the Mediterranean and Africa by supporting Ukraine, collaborating on energy security issues, and taking joint action.
Urso’s trips to Kyiv and then Washington provide a crystal-clear and comforting message that Fratelli d’Italia and Italy’s next administration would back Ukraine in its war against Russia and will be devoted to Euro-Atlantic principles and tactics. It also appears that Giorgia Meloni has a favorable reputation in the US. A handwritten message that Adolfo Urso got from well-known US diplomat Kurt Volker is a little but significant element that supports this idea. Urso has updated his Twitter with a picture of the message:
Volker’s comments on Fratelli d’Italia members
“Senator – Please feel free to tell the press later that we met and that I am reassured that FdI and you personally are committed to NATO, Ukraine, EU sanctions on Russia… And that FdI has zero ties to Russia. Grazie! Kurt”.
Given that the note was written immediately after the US State Department disclosed the existence of an intelligence dossier on Moscow’s covert sponsorship of foreign parties, politicians, officials, state corporations, and think tanks, the significance of this message cannot be understated.
One can argue that the message conflicts with Kurt Volker’s interview with La Repubblica on September 14 in which he voiced alarm over potential Kremlin connections for some FdI members. We don’t find any conflict, though; rather, we interpret these two statements from Volker as a whole. He cautions Melloni about her party’s dangerous ties.
In the article former ambassador Volker remarks on the Kremlin’s agenda “to promote division in our societies for years”, saying that “Lega’s and Berlusconi’s sympathies for Russia were known, but now the constant refrain is that Brothers of Italy have also received some help”.
Volker recalled that Lega’s Gianluca Savoini, a prominent assistant to Italian deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini, had participated in secret discussions over tunneling tens of millions of dollars of Russian oil money to Lega, during the infamous conversation he had with Russians in Moscow’s Metropol hotel on October 18th, 2018.
Additionally, according to him, Berlusconi “has formed a close personal friendship with Putin and significant commercial relations with Russia.”
The history of Salvini and Berlusconi’s interactions with Putin, the Kremlin, and their support for sanctions make them, to put it mildly, open to Russian influence.
When asked if the alarm is related to FdI, Kurt Volker responded, “Although there has been some support, I don’t have any direct personal evidence of it. Some elements of their strategy really resemble Russian viewpoints, if you look closely.”
Meloni files lawsuit over alleged financial backing from Kremlin
Giorgia Meloni just made the following announcement on her legal action against La Repubblica over the Volker interview: “All of our funding comes from reputable sources. I am certain that Fratelli d’Italia does not accept payments from foreign nationals “, she said to Italian Radio 24. “Volker and Repubblica [must] deliver the proof to us. The absence of them makes the lawsuit, in my opinion, inevitable “.
This may appear to be a bit of an overreaction, given that the interview and the note both state that everything is well with Giorgia Meloni and Adolfo Urso, but one should pay attention to those FdI members who are linked to Russia since they pose a threat to the Brothers of Italy. For example, Piedmont Regional Council member Maurizio Marrone, who is intimately associated with the Russian government and its minions in the occupied regions of Ukraine.
Marrone is a shining example of liability for FdI that they would rather get rid of.
Perhaps before nominating any of her coalition supporters or members of her own party to the cabinet, Giorgia Meloni should check to make sure. Last but not least, politicians in Italy are supposed to represent the interests of the Italian people and not Putin’s administration, which has started a brutal, all-out war on Europe.
The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, declared unequivocally in her recent 2022 Condition of the Union Address that the European Parliament has never questioned the state of their Union while war is raging on European land.
She stated “This is not only a war unleashed by Russia against Ukraine. This is a war on our energy, a war on our economy, a war on our values, and a war on our future. This is about autocracy against democracy. And I stand here with the conviction that with courage and solidarity, Putin will fail and Europe will prevail.”
It appears that the Brothers of Italy demonstrated their prowess as smart strategists once more. They collaborate with the Republicans on the issues that had started before president Biden was elected although they are biased towards the Democrats in the US who support the Democratic Party of Italy (former communists).
With its friends and allies, Italy is expected to remain firm and united. Italy cannot afford to have corrupt or treacherous politicians in office because it needs a strong, independent government to thrive.
Time will tell whether this warning was effective.