Autor foto: Domena publiczna

Russian narratives in Italy: legacy, status and future scenarios

Russian narratives in Italy: legacy, status and future scenarios

1 sierpnia, 2023

Russian narratives in Italy: legacy, status and future scenarios


Autor foto: Domena publiczna

Russian narratives in Italy: legacy, status and future scenarios

Autor: Francesco Foti

Opublikowano: 1 sierpnia, 2023

Moscow’s “war of choice” killed the Italo-Russian “romance” as the true colour of a disgruntled, terror state has tested the government and public. Still, local duginists are looking for a renewed occult influence to hijack the foreign policy and strategic security.                          

Legacy and current local and national influencers

Back in the 70s[i], according to intelligence[ii], the Italian Communist Party and the Left were organically swayed by the Soviet Union. This was followed by the bi-partisan push for cooperation in the energetic sector and international sphere.[iii] This narratively equated the interests of selected Italian entrepreneurs with ties to Russia with the whole national interest. Russian cultural centres in North Italy[iv] buttressed the Ruskij mir mission[v], Duginism [vi], and the ties among policymakers, opinionists[vii], and stakeholders [viii] leading even Silvio Berlusconi’s and Matteo Salvini’s parties along with the Region of Veneto Council to recognize Crimea as part of Russia.[ix] This clearly aimed at re-orienting the government foreign policy.[x] Experts and TV commentators[xi] have been amenable to propaganda and have displayed anti-American and anti-EU views in geopolitics[xii], praise for the supposedly successful conventional war on Ukraine and the denial of terror tactics and the reality of unconventional warfare[xiii], a need for closer ties, a quiet neutral approach and extolling a BRICS alternative [xiv] to prove Moscow’s attractiveness. This neglected to investigate the regional record[xv], the Russian aspirations and moves, the motives and the occult misinformation and manoeuvres[xvi] within the country itself. Academia, the information[xvii], and the general perception have been affected, fostering obliviousness, indifference, relativism, or pro-Russia opinions.[xviii]

Rossobrunismo” and “Berlusconism” and the 2018 pro-Russia’s government

Moscow’s strategy has benefited from historic „rossobrunismo[xix](the far right and far left have an anti-western convergence to Foreign Policy). The 2018 government, born out of the most divisive elections mired by Russian interference, expressed an interest in closer ties with Russia and alarming the allies in Brussels and Washington.[xx] Populism and sovereigntism have been good at eroding support for the Western governments and trying to refashion Italy’s perception and foreign policy by poisoning the debate and pressuring the government to relent in order not to lose the popular and certain key stakeholders’ support. The populist parties, heirs to Berlusconi’s business ties and Pratica di Mare doctrine[xxi], which posits the possibility and benefits of cooperation between the West and Moscow, despite no tangible result with Moldova 1991 and Georgia 2008, peddled propaganda such as Ukraine’s guilt towards Russia and in Donbas, the anti-western foreign policy rhetoric[xxii], criticism towards the allies’ support and Italy’s alignment within NATO and the EU[xxiii] , the downplaying of the cases of spies within the country.[xxiv]  Before the 2022 full-scale war, the pro-Russia voices in the Italian mainstream first denied the imminent signs of invasion[xxv], then opted for the expected fall of Kyiv[xxvi] hinting at the need for aftermath negotiations according to Russia’s desiderata. Later, the debate veered to a Putinversteher[xxvii] one with the appraisal of the supposedly legitimate Russian motives for starting and prolonging the war[xxviii], the need to fight Russophobia[xxix] and vague pacifism[xxx] as catholic[xxxi], pragmatic and even resolutory. Other misinformation themes have been the infeasibility of Western sanctions and that by arming Ukraine and integrating it within NATO and the EU Italy agrees to Western-induced nuclear escalation.[xxxii]

Mario Draghi’s U-turn, the need to guarantee the national security and future scenarios

Mario Draghi’s caretaker government introduced a new approach in the national debate about Russia’s disregard for Ukraine’s national sovereignty and independence, a new European security vision, and the threat to European values while stating bluntly that the defeat of Russia is conditional to Europe’s survival.[xxxiii]A major departure in terms of the usual pro-Russia middle-ground jargon in the spotlight. Moscow deplores it,[xxxiv] as it lost a useful business interlocutor and a fabric of narratives to spread in the country and feed the public through the different media mentioned, a possible ally and much-needed first-class support for opposing the sanctions and trying to dilute the European resolve to support Ukraine. After February 2022 Italy has been pressed to conform to the changed scenario by the national intelligence reports[xxxv] and the international community despite the contrariety expressed by key pro-Russia elements. It means a clear-cut support to every anti-Russian initiative in different supranational and international fora which is a mainstay and pillar to the Western bloc and resented by Moscow. Italy now addresses hybrid interference as a primal security threat, both internal and external. Narrative and strategic blunders have exposed Russia’s war crimes. It is unlikely the posture will change. However, it is the political understanding of how the war is going, what is at stake, and what should be done[xxxvi] which shows the resort to the pacifist card by the once all-powerful pro-Russian clique is still mainly lost on the public. This put the government in a delicate position. Moscow’s embassy even dares to dispense advice on how to ensure the welfare of Italians and their long-term interests. By opting for reticence instead of clarity of intent to the public, the government allows interference, pro-Russia influencers’ say, misinformation and propaganda to live on. It is a question of national security that must be solved. Neutrality to the Western security architecture[xxxvii], to Ukraine’s EU and NATO aspirations as vital to the European security in the face of Russian aggression and its overlooked historic expansionist and revisionist DNA that is dominant in the debate is still opium leading to a grey area for the pro-Russian elements to sow public aversion to the Italian government’s commitment to arming Ukraine, a realistic foreign policy, diversification in resources, strategic security and credibility.

Author: Francesco Foti, Independent Researcher 

[i] Drake, Richard. Review of The Soviet Dimension of Italian Communism, by Valerio Riva and Gianni Cervetti. Journal of Cold War Studies 6, no. 3 (2004): 115–19. https://www.jstor.org/stable/26925390 Accessed 27 July 2023

[ii]  Hersh M. Seymour, “C.I.A. is reported to give anti-reds in Italy $6 million”, New York Times, January 7, 1976; https://www.nytimes.com/1976/01/07/archives/cia-is-reported-to-give-antireds-in-italy-6-million-secret-payments.html Accessed 27 July 2023

Olliver James & Gilby Nicholas, “Revealed: the secret British plan to keep Italy’s communists from power”, The Guardian, October 2, 2022   https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/oct/02/revealed-the-secret-british-plan-to-keep-italys-communists-from-power  Accessed 27 July 2023

Lodigiani Roberto, “Carlo Codevilla, la ‘spia di Stalin’”, Sistema Informazione per la Sicurezza della Repubblica, July 8 2016; https://www.sicurezzanazionale.gov.it/sisr.nsf/storie-di-spie/carlo-codevilla-la-spia-di-stalin.html Accessed 27 July 2023

Carli Andrea, “Presunti fondi russi alla Lega: il precedente del dossier Mitrokhin con il PCI”, Il Sole 24 ore, July 12, 2019 https://www.ilsole24ore.com/art/presunti-fondi-russi-lega-precedente-dossier-mitrokhin-il-pci-ACex8OY Accessed 27 July 2023

[iii]Telefonata Renzi-Putin: „Avanti con la cooperazione sui progetti energetici” – See more at: http://www.rainews.it/archivio-rainews/articoli/Telefonata-Renzi-Putin-al-centro-del-colloquio-energia-e-la-situazione-internazionale-207bc62c-4199-4c02-9bc3-2466d59a5bd4.html, https://www.rainews.it/archivio-rainews/articoli/Telefonata-Renzi-Putin-al-centro-del-colloquio-energia-e-la-situazione-internazionale-207bc62c-4199-4c02-9bc3-2466d59a5bd4.html Accessed 27 July 2023

Scott Antonella, “Putin a Gentiloni: “Con lei l’interscambio ha ripreso a crescere””, Il Sole 24 ore, May 17 2017

https://www.ilsole24ore.com/art/putin-gentiloni-con-lei-interscambio-ha-ripreso-crescere-AEICQzNB Accessed 27 July 2023

Greco Andrea, “Romano Prodi al vertice Italia-Russia “Rapporti più stretti tra i due paesi””, La Repubblica, October 11, 2011 Accessed 27 July 2023

https://www.repubblica.it/economia/finanza/2011/10/27/news/romano_prodi_al_vertice_italia-russia_rapporti_pi_stretti_tra_i_due_paesi-23968748/ Accessed 27 July 2023

Perriello Maurizio, “Berlusconi e Putin, amici e soci: tutti gli affari d’oro”, QuiFinanza, June 12, 2023

https://quifinanza.it/editoriali/berlusconi-putin-amicizia-soci-affari-gas/721846/  Accessed 27 July 2023

[iv] Capone Luciano, “Liga Putin, la cellula veronese che ha dettato la linea filorussa a Zaia”, Il Foglio, March 23 2022

https://www.ilfoglio.it/politica/2022/03/23/news/liga-putin-la-cellula-veronese-che-ha-dettato-la-linea-filorussa-a-zaia-3834282/  Accessed 27 July 2023

[v] Nasce l’associazione culturale Piemonte Russia, https://www.torinotoday.it/cronaca/associazione-culturale-piemonte-russia.html Accessed 27 July 2023

[vi] Castelletti Rosalba, “Dugin e l’Italia: da Lega a Casapound a Fusaro e i complottisti: ecco la galassia dell’ideologo russo nel nostro paese”, August 21 22, La Repubblica

https://www.repubblica.it/esteri/2022/08/21/news/dugin_italia_lega_casa_pound-362481550/ Accessed 27 July 2023

[vii] l’Ambasciatore di Ucraina in Italia E.Perelygin ha rivolto un appello alla Redazione della rivista italiana di geopolitica „Limes” di modificare la mappa della Russia in conformità alle frontiere della Federazione Russa internazionalmente riconosciute, https://italy.mfa.gov.ua/it/news/43704-karta-ukrajini-u-vidanni-limes-maje-buti-privedena-u-vidpovidnisty-do-norm-mizhnarodnogo-prava Accessed 27 July 2023

[viii] Piana L., “Non solo gli oligarchi: i russi d’Italia che gestiscono 2.500 imprese”, La Repubblica, March 12, 2022

https://www.repubblica.it/economia/affari-e-finanza/2022/03/14/news/non_solo_oligarchi_i_russi_ditalia_che_gestiscono_2500_imprese-341029304/ Accessed 27 July 2023

[ix] Elena Stefano, “Consiglio regionale Veneto, approvata la mozione per riconoscere la Crimea russa”, Il Nordest Quotidiano, May 18 2016.

https://www.ilnordestquotidiano.it/2016/05/18/consiglio-regionale-del-veneto-approvata-la-mozione-per-riconoscere-la-crimea-russa/ Accessed 27 July 2023

Italy’s Berlusconi says Crimea split from Ukraine was democratic, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ukraine-crisis-berlusconi-idUSKCN0RR0MW20150927 Accessed 27 July 2023

[x] Il patto d’acciaio tra Putin e Salvini non è fiction: è in un contratto. Eccolo, https://www.ilfoglio.it/politica/2022/07/30/news/il-patto-d-acciaio-tra-putin-e-salvini-non-e-fiction-e-in-un-contratto-eccolo-4279598/  Accessed 27 July 2023

[xi] Lucio Caracciolo, https://www.limesonline.com/autori/lucio-caracciolo Accessed 27 July 2023

[xii] Pietro Figueram https://www.osservatoriorussia.com/author/pietro-figuera/ Accessed 27 July 2023

[xiii] Gianandrea Gaiani, https://www.analisidifesa.it/author/ggaiani/ Accessed 27 July 2023

[xiv] Salvatore Francesca, “Verso un mondo senza Dollaro: cosa può succedere ora?”, Inside Over, June 4 2023

https://it.insideover.com/economia/verso-un-mondo-senza-dollaro-cosa-puo-succedere-adesso.html Accessed 27 July 2023

[xv] Iwaniuk Jacub, “Poland and Ukraine’s calm dispute over Volhynia massacre for commemoration”, Lemonde, June 12, 2023,


Accessed 27 July 2023;

The Katyn lie. Its rise and duration, https://ipn.gov.pl/en/news/4020,The-Katyn-lie-Its-rise-and-duration.html Accessed 27 July 2023;

McGrath S., “Romania’s Danube dispute with Ukraine sparks Russia propaganda”, Financial Times, March 3, 2023, Accessed 27 July 2023.

[xvi]Scontro Italia-Russia: «Grazie per gli aiuti, ma la libertà di stampa non si tocca» , https://www.corriere.it/politica/20_aprile_04/scontro-italia-russia-grazie-gli-aiuti-ma-liberta-stampa-non-si-tocca-e4b1e884-7653-11ea-b3b8-a2cb021df0f0.shtml Accessed 27 July 2023

[xvii] Come funziona Sputnik News Italia, https://www.ilpost.it/2017/02/18/sputnik-news-italia/ Accessed 27 July 2023

[xviii]Paolini Margherita, „Perché dobbiamo fidarci di Putin”, Limes, November 23 2007 https://www.limesonline.com/cartaceo/perche-dobbiamo-fidarci-di-putin Accessed 27 July 2023

Sondaggio, meno aiuti all’Ucraina: così la pensa il 56% degli italiani,https://tg24.sky.it/mondo/2023/07/03/sondaggi-youtrend-guerra-russia-ucraina Accessed 27 July 2023

[xix] Forti Steven, “Un fantasma si aggira per l’Italia: il rossobrunismo”, Rolling Stones,

September 20 2018

https://www.rollingstone.it/politica/un-fantasma-si-aggira-per-litalia-il-rossobrunismo/429133/ Accessed 27 July 2023

[xx] Nelli Feroci Ferdinando, “La politica estera del Governo giallo-verde”, Istituto Affari Internazionali, p 13, Point 10, “Esteri”, 2019  https://www.iai.it/sites/default/files/iai1904.pdf  Accessed 27 July 2023.

Contratto Per Il Governo Del Cambiamento,

https://download.repubblica.it/pdf/2018/politica/contratto_governo.pdf Accessed 27 July 2023

[xxi]  Lorenzo Vita, Lo „spirito di Pratica di mare” e la geopolitica del Cav, https://www.ilgiornale.it/news/politica-internazionale/spirito-pratica-mare-e-geopolitica-cav-2135892.html Accessed 27 July 2023

[xxii] Dritto e Rovescio, Matteo Salvini: „Se al posto di Biden ci fosse Trump…”, lo schiaffo agli Usa, https://www.liberoquotidiano.it/news/politica/31858276/dritto-e-rovescio-matteo-salvini-joe-biden-donald-trump-usa-ucraina.html Accessed 27 July 2023

[xxiii] Grillo Beppe, “Noi siamo la minaccia”, Il Blog di Beppe Grillo, February 25 2023

https://beppegrillo.it/noi-siamo-la-minaccia/ Accessed 27 July 2023

[xxiv] Ossino Andrea, Scarpa Giuseppe, “Walter Biot, vendeva ai russi documenti segreti: 30 anni all’ex ufficiale spia”, La Repubblica, March 10 2023

https://roma.repubblica.it/cronaca/2023/03/09/news/spionaggio_walter_biot_condanna_30_anni_segreti_russi-391385134/  Accessed 27 July 2023

[xxv] Sciuto Cinzia, “Lucio Caracciolo: “La guerra non é mai stata un’opzione realistica”, Micromega, February 15 2022

https://www.micromega.net/guerra-ucraina-intervista-caracciolo/ Accessed 27 July 2023

[xxvi] Da Rold Vittorio, “Ucraina, tutti gli scenari della guerra che portano a una vittoria di Putin”, Il Domani, March 5 2022

https://www.editorialedomani.it/politica/mondo/ucraina-scenari-vittoria-putin-dyot8c0p Accessed 27 July 2023

[xxvii] Alessandro Orsini, https://www.ilfattoquotidiano.it/blog/aorsini/ptype/in-edicola/ Accessed 27 July 2023

[xxviii] Camut Nicolas, “Berlusconi blames Zelenski for war in Ukraine”, February 13 2023, Politico

https://www.politico.eu/article/silvio-berlusconi-blame-volodymyr-zelenskyy-war-ukraine-russia/ Accessed 27 July 2023

[xxix] Mettan G., “Mille Anni di Russofobia e propaganda”, December 28 2017, Limes https://www.limesonline.com/cartaceo/mille-anni-di-russofobia-e-propaganda  Accessed 27 July 2023

Contro Ogni Forma D’odio; La Deriva Della Russofobia, https://centrodestravalsamoggia.it/contro-odio-deriva-russofobia/ Accessed 27 July 2023

[xxx] Giuseppe Conte chiama a raccolta in piazza i pacifisti di destra e sinistra, https://www.linkiesta.it/2022/10/giuseppe-conte-manifestazione-pacifista/  Accessed 27 July 2023

[xxxi] Michelucci Riccardo, “No alle armi, si alla pace”,  Avvenire, February 16 2023

https://www.avvenire.it/attualita/pagine/i-cittadiniin-camp-fb386dbc20314aed9523d15d11dd611 d Accessed 27 July 2023

[xxxii] Conte al vetriolo: „Meloni guerrafondaia, ci porterà ad un scontro nucleare”,  https://www.affaritaliani.it/politica/conte-al-vetriolo-meloni-guerrafondaia-ci-portera-ad-un-scontro-nucleare-855148.html Accessed 27 July 2023

Ucraina: Conte, 'se entra nella Nato si allontana prospettiva negoziale, https://www.tarantobuonasera.it/news/news/803684/ucraina-conte-se-entra-nella-nato-si-allontana-prospettiva-negoziale.html; Accessed 27 July 2023

Ucraina, Conte: „Zelensky non decide condizioni pace”, https://www.adnkronos.com/politica/ucraina-conte-zelensky-non-decide-condizioni-pace_zVlwQuVeyPsTAQLcVJ2gf; Accessed 27 July 2023

La bugia di Bersani (e Conte) sull’Ucraina nella Nato, https://www.ilfoglio.it/editoriali/2023/07/14/news/la-bugia-di-bersani-e-conte-sull-ucraina-nella-nato-5498652/  Accessed 27 July 2023

[xxxiii] No Alternative to Ukraine Winning’ – Mario Draghi, https://www.kyivpost.com/post/18031 Accessed 27 July 2023

[xxxiv] Ricciardi V., “Quando Giorgia Meloni stava con Putin”, Il Domani, September 11 2022 https://www.editorialedomani.it/politica/italia/quando-giorgia-meloni-stava-con-putin-w72j6i7i Accessed 27 February 2023


Il discorso di Giorgia Meloni contro Putin che spopola in Ucraina,  https://www.la7.it/intanto/video/il-discorso-di-giorgia-meloni-contro-putin-che-spopola-in-ucraina-24-03-2023-477402 Accessed 27 July 2023

[xxxv]Dossier Usa su fondi russi, il presidente del Copasir: „Caso chiuso”,  https://tg24.sky.it/politica/2022/09/16/fondi-russi-italia-gabrielli-copasir Accessed July 2023

[xxxvi] Cosa pensa davvero Elly Schlein su Russia e Ucraina?, https://www.startmag.it/mondo/elly-schlein-guerra-ucraina-russia/ Accessed 27 July 2023;

Le posizioni dei partiti sulle sanzioni contro la Russia, https://pagellapolitica.it/articoli/posizioni-partiti-sanzioni-russia Accessed 27 July 2023;

[xxxvii]Il generale Graziano: „Un ministro gialloverde propose l’equidistanza da Russia e Nato”,  https://www.ilfoglio.it/politica/2022/07/07/news/il-generale-graziano-un-ministro-gialloverde-propose-l-equidistanza-da-russia-e-nato–4193536/ Accessed 27 July 2023