Italy to extend Ukraine arms supply law for 2023 - minister

Italian PM Meloni and deputy PM Tajani attend a swearing-in ceremony at the Quirinale Palace, in Rome

ROME (Reuters) -Italy's government will ask parliament to approve a new law on military and civilian supplies to Ukraine throughout 2023, Defence Minister Guido Crosetto said in an interview published on Monday.

The Rome government can send aid to Ukraine without seeking parliamentary authorisation each time on the basis of a decree that expires at the end of the year.

"The Defence (ministry) will shortly propose to renew that same measure, extending it to all of 2023," Crosetto told Il Foglio newspaper.

Italy will continue supplying arms, as it has done in the past, "in the times and ways that we will agree with our Atlantic allies and with Kyiv", Crosetto added.

Earlier this month, a governing coalition official told Reuters that Italy was readying a new arms package for Ukraine, including air defence systems Kyiv has specifically asked for.

Crosetto also told Il Foglio that he would propose to exclude expenditure on "defence investments" from EU deficit calculations, under the bloc's Stability and Growth Pact.

"Some countries, I won't tell you which ones, are actually very much in favour," Crosetto said, referring to preliminary contacts he had with EU peers.

He said he raised the issue with EU Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni, a former Italian premier, and would do the same in a letter to fellow EU defence ministers.

Crosetto belongs to Brothers of Italy, the right-wing party of Italy's new Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who is a staunch supporter of Ukraine.

The two other key members of the ruling coalition, Matteo Salvini and Silvio Berlusconi, are more ambivalent, both having historical ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

(Reporting by Alvise Armellini; editing by Gianluca Semeraro, Jason Neely and Toby Chopra)