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Draghi maintains a hard line against Moscow despite the unwillingness of his majority

The President of the Italian Council, Mario Draghi, and Aymen Benabderrahmane, the Algerian Prime Minister, in Algiers on April 11, 2022.

The case is paramount and was completed in record time. On Monday, April 11, Italian Council President Mario Draghi traveled to Algiers to meet President Abdelmadjid Tebboune and officially announce the agreement between the two countries to increase natural gas supplies to Italy.

In the coming months, the flow rate of the Transmed gas pipeline, which connects the Algerian gas fields to western Sicily via Tunisia, should increase in order to operate at full capacity. The aim is to gradually increase Algerian gas supplies to 30 billion cubic meters (compared to 21 currently), an increase of 9 billion cubic meters – an increase equivalent to about a third of current Russian gas deliveries. In practice, an increase of 3 billion would be possible from 2022, the rest is expected in the course of 2023.

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In these times of war in Ukraine, and while all of Europe is doing everything possible to reduce its dependence on Russian hydrocarbons, the success of this operation carried out at this pace is not an easy task. Rome will certainly pay this extra contribution at a heavy price, but while Europe continues to discuss the possibility of imposing an energy block on Russia, the agreement signed in Algiers is a significant step forward. In the coming weeks, the President of the Italian Council will travel to Congo, Angola and Mozambique to formalize agreements with a further perspective. In the short term, it seems impossible to fully offset the annual 30 billion cubic meters that Russia supplies to Italy (40% of the country’s gas imports). Nevertheless, any opportunities to reduce the costs of possible sanctions against the energy sector are good to seize.

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M5S opposition

In fact, Italy continues to confirm through the vote of its President of the Council that it is ready to accept an embargo at all costs if its partners so decide. “Do we prefer quiet or air conditioning this summer? This is the question, I think, we must ask ourselves.” he summarized on April 6 at a press conference, at the end of the Council of Ministers.

Since the beginning of the Ukrainian crisis, Mr Draghi has shown his support for determination, despite the reluctance of several components of his majority. According to information from financial times, it was he who put forward the idea from the first hours of the invasion to “to freeze” foreign assets of the Russian central bank, depriving Moscow of more than $600 billion in resources and causing unexpected damage. Without confirming this information, the Presidency of the Italian Council allowed it. In the same way, since the beginning of the fighting, he has defended the idea of ​​providing defensive weapons to the Ukrainians. “Not giving weapons to those who are attacked would be to prove the autocrats right,” he secured the podium of the Chamber of Deputies on March 23, not hesitating to evoke in the chamber the memory of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.

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