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    Italy Considers Boosting Military Assistance To Ukraine With Possible Samp/t Air Defense System Delivery

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    Italy is currently deliberating whether to bolster its military support for Ukraine by sending a second SAMP/T air defense battery, amid intensified calls from international allies for enhanced arms deliveries to the country under siege by Russian forces.

    This contemplation has emerged from within the highest echelons of the Italian government, with the final decision resting on Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s directive.

    The Defence Ministry of Italy has expressed a willingness to proceed with the delivery, but the ramifications of such an action are under careful consideration.

    “The Defence Ministry is keen, but a decision must be made by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. It is on her desk and the choice could be made in a week or two,” disclosed a political insider familiar with the discussions who requested anonymity given the sensitive nature of the matter.

    Italy’s potential contribution of the SAMP/T system, a sophisticated, truck-mounted missile defense system capable of intercepting a range of threats from cruise to tactical ballistic missiles as well as aircraft and drones, represents a critical asset for Ukraine as it seeks to bolster its defensive capabilities against Russian missile assaults.

    This air defense battery, if delivered, would be the second after Italy dispatched one to Ukraine in the previous year.

    The SAMP/T system intended for Ukraine is currently stationed in Kuwait and is one of Italy’s five operational units. The Italian government’s hesitancy stems from the limited number of these systems in its arsenal.

    The caution is further amplified by the deployment of another battery in Slovakia as part of NATO’s defensive arrangements, and the upcoming commitment of another system to safeguard the G7 summit in southern Italy this June.

    “There has been enormous political pressure on Italy to donate a second battery, but it is a tough decision because it leaves Italy with little redundancy,” stated Alessandro Marrone, a defense expert from the Rome-based Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI) think tank.

    Despite Prime Minister Meloni’s firm support for Ukraine’s endeavor to reclaim its territories occupied by Russia, the government maintains a discreet approach regarding the specifics of military aid.

    The exact inventory of weapons delivered to Ukraine has not been disclosed to the public or to members of the Italian Parliament, a practice that has drawn criticism from various quarters, including the opposition Five Star Party and Meloni’s coalition ally, the League.

    “It is outrageous that Parliament knows nothing, that only we keep this secret in Europe,” remarked Francesco Silvestri, a Five Star member of parliament.

    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, during a recent encounter with Meloni in Rome, expressed gratitude for Italy’s initial dispatch of the SAMP/T system and encouraged the nation to escalate its defense expenditures.

    Italy has been incrementally increasing its defense budget but remains below NATO’s recommended threshold of 2% of GDP.

    After his discussions with the Italian Prime Minister, Stoltenberg articulated to La Repubblica that “Italy has the ambition to grow and get in line with the others.”

    Relevant articles:
    Italy mulls delivery of another SAMP/T system to Ukraine, says source, Defense News, 05/11/2024
    Italy is considering supplying another SAMP/T system to Ukraine, a source said, The Bharat Express News, 05/10/2024

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