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Did Putin Bring Down Draghi?

Media reporting has uncovered more and more evidence that Russia may have engineered the collapse of former Prime Minister Mario Draghi's unity government. Regardless of how much more information comes to light, the Kremlin must be looking at the prospect of a new right-wing government with hope and glee.

ROME – Russian President Vladimir Putin’s fingerprints appear to be all over the recent political developments that culminated in Mario Draghi’s resignation as Italy’s prime minister.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February, Draghi responded decisively by supporting strong sanctions against Russia and by offering political, financial, and military support to Ukraine. But both acts required overcoming resistance from populist parties within his own national-unity governing coalition: namely the Five Star Movement, led by former Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, and Matteo Salvini’s League party. And as the war dragged on, the backlash from these pro-Putin forces grew.

Presumably seeing an opportunity, the Russian embassy in Rome has been courting Salvini for months, even buying him a plane ticket to Moscow for a “peace mission” this past May (which he did not bother to inform Draghi about). While that trip was abandoned at the last minute following a public outcry, Salvini had dinner with the Russian ambassador in early March, just a week after Russia’s invasion.

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