The European Union must ask Russia to urgently reduce tensions with Ukraine when EU leaders meet in Brussels on Thursday, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said.
Addressing the Italian Chamber of Deputies before this week’s EU summit, Draghi said the bloc “must unanimously renew its support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”
Ukraine accuses Russia of massing around 100,000 troops in preparation for a possible military offensive, raising fears that a simmering conflict in Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region could erupt into open war between the neighbours.
Draghi said the EU must also “unequivocally express itself against the use of migrants by the Belarusian regime”.
Thousands of migrants are stuck on the EU’s eastern frontier, in what the EU says is a crisis Minsk engineered by distributing Belarusian visas in the Middle East, flying them in and pushing them across the border.
“The intentional use of migrants for political aims is unacceptable,” Draghi said in his speech to parliament.
In other remarks, Draghi said the emergence of the highly contagious Omicron coronavirus variant, first identified in Africa, showed that the EU must accelerate its efforts in supplying COVID-19 vaccines to poor countries.
Draghi also said he was certain Rome would meet all the policy objectives agreed with the EU for this year to obtain loans and grants from the bloc’s Recovery Fund to help countries recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
With international energy prices continuing to rise, Draghi also said the government was ready to provide more funds if necessary to limit the increase in household energy bills.
His multi-party coalition has already stumped up some 4billion euros ($4.51 billion) this year to cap gas and electricity bills and has committed a similar sum in 2022.($1 = 0.8872 euros)