Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni claimed that Ukraine’s allies are growing tired of the country’s ongoing conflict with Russia and slammed the European Union for failing to do more to combat the migration crisis at Italy’s southern border in a hoax phone call with Russian pranksters.
The right-wing Italian leader divulged her thoughts on several issues facing Europe and the wider region to the Russian duo Vovan and Lexus — also known as Vladimir Kuznetsov and Aleksej Stolyarov — who have successfully duped a multitude of high-ranking politicians and celebrities into compromising situations.
The pair posed as the president of the African Union Commission in the prank call that dates back to Sept. 18, days before Meloni was due to meet with African leaders at the U.N. General Assembly in New York.
During the 13-minute conversation, the Italian prime minister spoke of the fatigue being felt among the international community towards the unceasing situation in Ukraine, but said the issue was “finding a solution that is acceptable to both parties without violating international law.”
“I have some ideas on how to handle this situation, but I’m waiting for the right time to try to present these ideas,” she added.
Meloni admitted the ongoing counteroffensive by Kyiv was “perhaps not going as expected,” had not “changed the fate of the conflict,” and was leading to further issues for Europe “including immigration, inflation, and an increase in energy prices.”
She compared the situation in Ukraine to the drawn-out conflict in Libya, telling the pranksters: “We could discuss for hours, my friend, what happened (in Libya). Maybe someone understands that the situation there is not better now.”
The conversation turned to the ongoing migrant crisis in the Mediterranean and the impact it is having on Italy’s southern border, to which Meloni remarked: “The situation is rather complicated: Since the beginning of the year, more than 120,000 people have arrived, especially from Tunisia.
“The situation is very difficult on all fronts, the humanitarian situation, the logistical situation, the security situation. And I think this flow may increase due to the situation that is developing in Africa, especially in the Sahel,” she added.
The Italian prime minister was particularly critical of EU leaders who she claimed had consistently been reluctant to accept responsibility for the migrant crisis and offer assistance to those on the frontline.
“For a long time, Europe thought it could solve the problem by leaving Italy alone. What it doesn’t understand is that it’s impossible. The scale of this phenomenon affects, in my opinion, not only the European Union but also the United Nations,” Meloni told the Russian pranksters.
“But the problem is that others don’t care. They didn’t answer the phone when I called them. And they all agree that Italy must solve this problem alone. This is a very stupid position,” she added.
She further scolded Brussels for claiming that it understands the issues affecting Italy, “but when you ask them to allocate funds, to help, it becomes more difficult. I have to tell the truth.”
A statement from the Chigi Palace to the La Repubblica newspaper on Wednesday said Meloni’s office “regrets having been misled by an impostor who passed himself off as the president of the African Union Commission and who was put in telephone contact with Prime Minister Meloni.
“The episode occurred on Sept. 18 in the context of the intense commitment developed in those hours by Prime Minister Meloni to strengthen relations with the African leaders with whom she had important meetings on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly between Sept. 19-21,” it added.
Alexei Stolyarov, the prankster who posed as the African official, praised Meloni’s frankness in an exchange with Reuters.
“Unfortunately, unlike her, many European politicians behave like some kind of programmed robot and express points of view that are only voiced in their own circles,” he told the news agency.