Draghi urges Biden to promote long-term peace plan for Ukraine
(Bloomberg) – Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has said allies should start working on negotiations for a lasting peace process in Ukraine, even as they continue to sanction Russia for its invasion of the country.
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“People ask, how can we stop these atrocities? How to achieve a ceasefire? Right now it’s hard to have answers to that, but we need to think carefully about these questions,” Draghi told President Joe Biden during a meeting at the White House on Tuesday. He said Russian President Vladimir Putin has failed to harm the United States’ alliance with Europe.
Biden told Draghi that Italy was one of the United States’ closest allies in the face of the Kremlin. “If Putin ever thought he could divide us, he failed,” Draghi said.
Draghi’s remarks follow skepticism from some of the parties in his coalition government about the impact of the war on Italy’s economy and the military support offered to Ukraine.
Biden and Draghi met to discuss the war and coordinate their response to the Russian invasion. This is the first visit to Washington by a European Union leader since fighting broke out in Ukraine on February 24.
Draghi, who has called for greater EU coordination on defense and foreign policy, warned on Tuesday that the war would bring “radical” change to Europe.
Draghi urges EU member states to give up their foreign policy vetoes
Despite Italy’s dependence on Russian energy, Draghi lobbied for the EU to sanction imports of Russian oil. He has also supported sending heavy weapons to Ukraine despite resistance from his broad coalition government.
During their meeting, Biden told Draghi that the United States was ready to increase oil production if it did not affect clean energy goals, according to remarks shared by Italian officials.
The United States and the EU announced a plan in March to supply at least 15 billion cubic meters of liquefied natural gas to the bloc this year to support its cut off from Russian energy.
Italy and the United States have also cooperated in seizing the assets of Russian oligarchs.
Italy froze around 1 billion euros in assets, including yachts and villas with the help of US intelligence, according to people familiar with the matter. They asked not to be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue.
Italian authorities last week ordered the superyacht Scheherazade to be detained in a Tuscan port, saying it was linked to the highest levels of the Russian government under EU sanctions.
Draghi’s meeting with Biden seals Italy’s shift to a pro-Atlantic foreign policy that began when the former head of the European Central Bank was named prime minister in 2021 and accelerated with the start of the war in Ukraine.
Read more: Draghi began to undo decades of Italian ties with Russia
Draghi and Biden last met in person in October at a Group of 20 meeting in Rome. They are both due to attend the Group of Seven and NATO summits in June.
Draghi will meet with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the United States Capitol on Wednesday, before receiving the Atlantic Council Distinguished Leadership Award that evening.
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