In a television interview on Thursday evening, the 85-year-old S. Berlusconi said that the head of the Kremlin was pushed to invade Ukraine. “Putin was pushed by the Russian people, the party, his ministers, so that he decided on this special operation,” S. Berlusconis told the Rai TV channel.
Berlusconi is a friend of the Russian president and was hesitant to condemn the invasion when the war broke out. Now, he said, “Putin has found himself in a really difficult and dramatic situation.” He used this phrase deliberately, having in mind the February scenario, when V. Putin was allegedly asked to intervene by the representatives of the two self-proclaimed republics in the Donbass, explaining that Ukraine was increasingly attacking their territories.
Also, the leader of the Forza Italia party, a junior partner in the right-wing coalition most likely to win the election, said Putin wanted to replace Volodymyr Zelensky’s government in Kiev with a “government of decent people.”
The media tycoon, who has drawn attention for scandals in addition to politics, is worrying those who fear that Italy will turn towards Russia after the election.
In addition to S. Berlusconi, the right-wing bloc also includes Matteo Salvini, the leader of the far-right “League”, who has been a fan of V. Putin for many years and has criticized Western sanctions against Moscow.
“Truly tragic” – that’s how S. Berlusconi’s performance was called by center-left candidate Carlo Calenda, who called the Forza Italia founder “something between Putin’s spokesman and a military adviser”. Former Prime Minister Enrico Letta of the Social Democratic Party tweeted on Friday: “There are no words to describe this.”
On Thursday, the Russian embassy in Rome caused an uproar after posting on Facebook a message in which it released photos of meetings between Italian politicians and Putin from previous years.
Among them were not only S. Berlusconi and M. Salvini, but also other participants in the election campaign – E. Letta, Giuseppe Conte, Matteo Renzis, Luigi Di Maio and even President Sergio Mattarella and his predecessor Giorgio Napolitano. “From the recent history of Russian-Italian relations,” was the caption next to it. “Some of them we have to remember.”
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