ROME – Italy on Monday joined a long list of countries promising weaponry to Ukraine as the East European country defends itself against an invasion by Russia.
The pledge by Rome took the number of nations in line to deliver military hardware and funding to Kyiv to over a dozen, including the United States and Canada.
The Italian cabinet signed off on a measure authorizing the dispatch of Stinger surface-to-air missiles, mortars and Milan, or Panzerfaust, anti-tank weapons. Italian media had claimed Israeli-made Spike missiles would be included in the package but a defense source said that was doubtful since Israel would need to approve their use and would be unlikely to do so.
Among other weaponry on the Italian list, which will need to approved by parliament this week, were Browning heavy machine guns, MG-type light machine guns and counter-IED systems.
The consignment could be flown to Romania or Poland and delivered over the border to Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Germany has broken its long standing rule on not supplying weapons to countries at war with a promise to send 1,000 anti-tank weapons, 500 Stinger missiles, nine howitzers and 14 armored vehicles to Ukraine.
Sweden has pledged to send 5,000 anti-tank weapons, while Finland is is dispatching 1,500 rocket launchers and 2,500 assault rifles.
Norway is also reversing a policy of not supplying combatant countries by delivering up to 2,000 2,000 M72 anti-tank weapons. “Norway has strict policies regarding exports of military equipment, but Ukraine now faces extraordinary circumstances,” said prime minister Jonas Gahr Stoere.
The Netherlands will also send 200 Stinger missiles following a specific request to the European Union for the surface-to-air weapon.
The EU has in turn established a fund of 450 million euros ($504m) to reimburse member states for weapons they send to Ukraine.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called the move “a turning point in the history of European integration,” on Monday.
Describing Italy’s decision to send arms, Italian defense minister Lorenzo Guerini said, “This is an important response that gives a sign of the concrete solidarity for Ukraine. Whoever wanted to divide us has been disappointed. NATO is stronger, Europe is more united.”
Tom Kington is the Italy correspondent for Defense News.