US, Italy united on Ukraine, with slightly different tones
Both Rome and Washington will emphasise their historic friendship and shared desire to help Ukraine defend itself from Russia's two-month-old invasion when the leaders meet on Tuesday. Energy, climate change and promoting global economic prosperity also are on the agenda.
Draghi is pushing for even a limited truce to allow talks to resume, mindful also of the impact on Italy should the war spill over Ukraine's borders.
Statements by Biden and his emissaries have been more aggressive, suggesting both regime change and the goal of weakening Russia.
These differences reflect not only Italy's geographic closeness to the fighting, but also its historic political and economic ties with Russia.
Italy gets 40 per cent of its natural gas from Russia, and economic trade last year amounted to 20 billion euros.
“I don't think this is the position of the Italian government, which in the past has had cordial and positive relations with Russia.'' Draghi, a former central banker skilled at measuring his words, is one of the only European Union leaders to visit Washington since the war broke out, and can be expected to represent not only Italy's perspective, but also that of Europe.
His “whatever it takes'' posture as the European Central Bank chief famously saved the euro during the currency bloc's crisis a decade ago.
Arming Ukraine has become a political issue in Italy, with a growing public opposition to sending Italian weaponry out of fear of provoking a wider conflict spilling over into neighbouring EU and NATO member states.
A key government party, the five-Star Movement, is insisting that only defensive, short-range weapons be shipped, not any with offensive capabilities, while right-wing leader Matteo Salvini, a former interior minister, is against more arm shipments to Ukraine.
Some of that sentiment is rooted in pacifism, and some is related to fears of igniting a wider war, including fears of a nuclear escalation, he said.
Italians over 40 have palpable memories of their close geographic location to Ukraine. Shortly after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986, nuclear contamination reached Italy and Italians were warned not to eat salad or drink milk for weeks.
Italy already has invoked secrecy over its military support out of security concerns. But Draghi can also point to parliament's overwhelming support to aid Ukraine last month to play down any friction within his broad-based coalition.
“Maybe the message that Draghi will bring to Biden in these hours is: We are on the side of the Americans, but let's not make this a war of good against evil, of light against darkness,'” said Alessia De Luca, a political analyst at the ISPI think tank in Milan.
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