The anti-missile shield that Italy will send to kyiv will be operational in eight weeks

The Franco-Italian SAMP/T system (Creative Commons)

kyiv will have a missile shield within a maximum period of eight weeks, revealed this Thursday the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Antonio Tajani, while he was convinced that this year peace negotiations will be opened in Ukraine and Russia.

The anti-missile shield to protect kyiv and other strategic areas of Ukraine “I think it will be operational in Ukrainian territory within a period of seven or eight weeks,” said the vice president of the government who presides over the far-right Giorgia Meloni on public television RAI.

Tajani assured that Italy has always sent “defensive weapons, never offensive” and that it will continue to do so: “We have not sent tanks and we will not send them,” he said, although he was in favor of “continuing to help kyiv with all possible instruments, including sending electrical equipment.”

The head of Italian diplomacy, “number two” of the conservative Forza Italia led by Silvio Berlusconi, also said he was confident that “a peace table is reached between now and 2023” between kyiv and Moscow, although he acknowledged that “it is difficult to make predictions.”

“No doubt (Russian President Vladimir) Putin will look for a way out. So we’ll see, it’s all very complicated,” he added.

Italian Defense Minister Guido Crosetto and French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu (Ministero della Difesa/Handout via REUTERS)
Italian Defense Minister Guido Crosetto and French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu (Ministero della Difesa/Handout via REUTERS) (Ministero della Difesa/)

The Italian Parliament approved on January 24 the extension for the shipment in 2023 of military material to Ukrainethe sixth shipment to kyiv from Italy, which since the beginning of the war, on February 24, has harshly criticized Putin, and has shown firm support for the Ukrainian, Volodimir Zelensky.

In fact, Meloni, leader of the ultra-right formation Brothers of Italy (FdI), has announced his intention to travel to Ukraine this month and has invited Zelensky to visit Italy, while always insisting on Rome’s support for kyiv in the “political, military, economic and humanitarian” field.

France and Italy will supply kyiv with the Samp/T, also called mamba. Designed to deal with ballistic or cruise attacks, and target fighter jets or drones, the Mamba is a supersonic weapon capable of hitting a medium-range target up to an altitude of 20 kilometers and at a range of more than 100 kilometers.

The system, a joint Franco-Italian consortium, can track dozens of targets and intercept 10 at a time and is the only European-made system that can intercept ballistic missiles.

Both Italy and France have deployed a dozen of them on their territories (and in Romania, as part of a NATO agreement) to defend strategic sites. The system that could be shipped to Ukraine would have to assemble parts from both countries, to balance the effort.

kyiv asked to have the Samp/T in November, in a kind of shopping list containing tanks and fighter planes. According to some Italian media, the delay in the new shipment has been due to political tensions in the government alliance, in addition to other considerations about costs and the lack of military material.

(With information from EFE and Reuters)

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