Dutch PM Says Italy Considering Sending Howitzers to Ukraine – Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Wednesday that Italy is preparing to supply Ukraine with new weapons that are “similar” to the howitzers donated by Germany and the Netherlands. The announcement was made during the NATO leaders’ summit taking place in Madrid this week.
When asked by a POLITICO reporter about the state of NATO military aid to Ukraine, the Dutch PM said that his main concern at the moment is the “difficult” military situation in Ukraine’s eastern regions. In Donbas, where Russian troops are working to “liberate” the self-styled people’s republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, Russian soldiers are making slow and steady progress in taking control of Ukrainian territory.
That slow and steady progress has seen both sides lose significant numbers of troops, weapons, and vehicles – but it is progress nonetheless.
“It is incredibly important that Ukraine is getting supplied with sufficient heavy weapon systems,” Rutte said, stressing that Italy will be stepping up to the plate as other NATO countries have done in recent months.
Rutte also said that both the Netherlands and Germany have confirmed that six Panzerhaubitze 2000 howitzers will be sent to Ukraine – a move that will give Ukraine some of the most modern and advanced weapons in the region. 12 of the same howitzers were also delivered to Ukraine last week.
Despite Rutte’s comments, Rome has not confirmed the donation, but some Italian officials did confirm to reporters on the sidelines of the event that Italy intends to supply “similar material” to Ukraine.
Three Italian Tanks Reportedly Stopped By Traffic Police
While Rome hasn’t confirmed the donations, reports suggested this week that three tanks believed to be on their way from Italy to Ukraine were stopped by traffic police.
Naples Traffic Police reportedly stopped three Panzerhaubitze 2000 howitzers at the Mercato San Severino tollbooth on the A30 Salerno-Caserta highway. The military vehicles were reportedly stopped by authorities because the semi-trailers and tractors transporting them didn’t have the necessary certification that would allow them to pass.
Il Mattino, an Italian daily newspaper, reported that the vehicles had been dispatched from a Persano military base.
The newspapers also claimed that the tanks were on their way to Ukraine, but the Italian Ministry of Defense claimed that they were “headed to Germany for an exercise.”
“The transport of the vehicles coming from the military base of Persano in Salerno was the responsibility of a private company which, following checks carried out, did not have the correct documentation,” the Italian government department said.
While the Italian government may intend to distract from the true plans for the vehicles, it’s also entirely possible that Italy plans to send different equipment and the modern Panzerhabitze howitzers are indeed on their way to Germany.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.