Is Russian Propaganda Gaining Momentum Pushing Italy to Leave the EU?

  • Italian opposition leader Matteo Salvini unveiled a post Coronavirus economic plan for Italy.
  • A recent poll showed growing support for Italy leaving the EU.
  • Some of the anti-EU sentiment comes from their refusal to issue Euro Bonds to alleviate the economic consequences due to Covid-19.
  • Russia continues to stoke populism sentiments.

As coronavirus continues to be on the forefront of the news, many nations and their citizens are wondering what comes next from an economic prospective. Many workers have been laid off and one of the hardest hit is the service industry. Additionally, it is highly likely the European Union will have a lasting recession, which will turn into hyperinflation by fall.

However, now many European Union member nations are starting to think about their individual needs and do not want to share the debt. No one publicly stated any changed within Euro Zone, but it is been a sentiment that is gaining momentum. Protectionism was already observed during the medical supplies shortage and a lack of enthusiasm to share the equipment with neighboring nations.

Italy has been one of the hardest hit within the European Union. It had one of the highest mortally rates and also had over 150 doctors die from coronavirus. The country couldn’t deal with the virus alone, be it due to a lack of proper emergency management protocols or just not being ready for the pandemic. It could be a fact that Italy and the US lost at least a month of crucial time to close their borders while the World Health Organization was downplaying the situation and urging nations not to cancel flights.

Russia has been supporting the spread of populism across Europe for sometime. For the Kremlin the best case scenario is the demise of the EU. Especially since Russian President Vladimir Putin hints strongly that he wants to resurrect the Soviet Union.  Russia was heavily supportive of Matteo Salvini, an Italian politician who served as Deputy Prime Minister of Italy and Minister of the Interior from 1 June 2018 to 5 September 2019. He has also been Federal Secretary of the Northern League since December 2013. In the last Italian election, the Russians were stoking the sentiment of nationalism. They did the same in France in the last election where Marine Le Penn lost to Emanuel Macron.

Now the Centre-right opposition leader, Salvini on Wednesday announced a “grand national reconstruction plan” for the economic crisis that occurred due to the coronavirus. Salvini claims there is a breakdown of the dialogue with the current government.  Coincidentally, the unveiling of his plan has been timed with a poll released by Termometro Politico stating that 47.3% support Italy leaving the EU. Ironically Italy is the same nation that was begging for aid and their economy has been nose diving for some time.

One of the main reasons for the anti-EU sentiment is outside propaganda stoked by Russia. They are also one of the nations who set up mobile hospitals in Italy and sent their medical support and doctors to alleviate the grotesque lack of equipment to treat infected with coronavirus, including ventilators.

One reason Italians have soured on the EU was the rejection of the proposal to issue special Eurobonds. The proposal was brought forward by a few EU members including Italy  It meant to alleviate the economic consequences that will come full force post coronavirus. The EU implemented its own measures, which entail 540 billion Euros ( $584 billion) allocated to soften the financial consequences related to COVID-19.

Immediately that news was shared within Russian news outlets and social media with many posts adding words about starving Italian nationals due to a food shortage if Italy stays in the EU.

Italy is expected to allocate 75 billon Euros ($81 billion) to stimulate their economy once it reopens.

Italy will have a hard time going forward. Of course, Russia will capitalize to push its own agenda to slowly disintegrate the EU. The cyber propaganda will continue as dictators such as Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Xi Jinping continue their geopolitical power struggles. How successful Italy can be without the EU is questionable at this time, or if this could even be a tangible situation.

It is for certain the propaganda will be amplified by China and Russia and disinformation will continue.

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Christina Kitova

I spent most of my professional life in finance, insurance risk management litigation.

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