Ukraine: Italy PM calls on Putin to stop the bloodshed

Draghi promises "very tough" EU sanctions for Russia.

Italian premier Mario Draghi said that Italy joins the EU and all allies in calling on Russian president Vladimir Putin to "put an immediate end to the bloodshed and to withdraw military forces  in an unconditional way" from within Ukraine's "internationally recognised borders".

The prime minister was speaking on Thursday morning, following a cabinet meeting at Palazzo Chigi, after earlier condemning Russia's military assault on Ukraine as "unjustified and unjustifiable".

Expressing "full and unconditional solidarity" with the Ukrainian people of behalf of Italy, Draghi said Ukraine is "a European country, a friendly nation" and that what is happening there "affects all of us, our free living, our democracies."

The premier said that Italy shares the position of seeking a peaceful solution to the crisis, stating: "I have always thought that any form of dialogue should be sincere and above all useful... But the actions of the Russian government these days make this virtually impossible."

Draghi will attend this afternoon's emergency EU summit on the Russia-Ukraine crisis in Brussels, promising "a package of very tough sanctions" against Moscow.

Draghi will report to parliament on Friday morning, pledging that the government intends to "work ceaselessly to resolve the crisis together with our allies" and do "everything necessary to guarantee the sovereignty of Ukraine, the security of the EU and the international order based on the rules that we all share."

Draghi stressed that Italy's embassy in Kyiv remains "open and fully operational" and that it is "on maximum alert, ready to take any decision necessary".