by Simone Billi

In these days many people ask me what is the real problem behind the Ukrainian crisis, which could lead to a war with Russia involving Western countries. Actually, following the various television programs that talk about it, it does not appear very clear. The reason is quickly said: Ukraine has shown interest in joining NATO. Both for a matter of national security (as President Volodymyr Zelensky said) and probably also to push the development and the economic progress of the country.

I would remind that NATO is an international organization founded after World War II by Western countries as a "defensive alliance," as opposed to those in the Soviet bloc. "The purpose of NATO," Lord Ismay, its first Secretary General, has reportedly said, "is to keep the Americans in, the Russians out, and the Germans under". After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of socialism and the attack of September 11, 2001, NATO has been configured more towards crisis management and the fight against terrorism (a new Strategic Concept will be produced this year, however). Today it has 30 adhering countries.

In opposition to NATO the Warsaw Pact arose, a military alliance between the socialist states of the Soviet bloc. Ukraine was one of the 15 republics of the Soviet Union, from which it separated in 1991. Ukraine is the largest and most populous country of the former Soviet bloc, apart from Russia, with almost 50 million inhabitants and an area of 600 thousand square kilometers (more than Poland, which has 40 million inhabitants in 313 thousand square kilometers).

From these premises, appear clear the ground on which are based the statements of Vladimir Putin, according to which "a further expansion of NATO to the east is unacceptable".

Complicating the situation is also the gas pipeline that brings gas from Russia to Europe through Ukraine. Russia contributes around 35% of Europe's gas needs, of which around a third goes through Ukraine. It is therefore clear the importance of Russian gas in the light of recent increases in the cost of energy, which is bringing Italian and European families and production activities to their knees.

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Italy must do everything to avoid a war: also to protect the 10,871 Italians living in Russia and the 1,476 living in Ukraine. We are working to find an agreement between the opposing sides.

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Member of Parliament elected to the Chamber of Deputies in the Abroad - Europe Constituency. Member of the Lega group, he is part of the Commission of Foreign and Community Affairs and is secretary of the Parliamentary Delegation to the Assembly of the Council of Europe. He has a degree in Industrial Engineering and is a manager in the intellectual property sector.