“Putin was forced into this special operation by the Russian people, by his party, by his ministers,” said Berlusconi, among others, who used the term the Russian president used to describe the invasion of Ukraine launched on February 24. According to him, the Russian plan was to conquer Kyiv “in a week” and replace the government of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky with “the government of decent people”.
A far-right coalition could rule Italy
“Soldiers were supposed to march there, replace Zelensky’s government with decent people and withdraw again in a week. Instead, they encountered unexpected resistance, fueled by weapons of all kinds from the West. I feel bad when I hear about so many dead, because I have always said that war is the greatest madness of all,” Berlusconi’s APA agency quoted him as saying.
Berlusconi’s remarks were criticized by his rivals for Sunday’s election. The leader of the centrist Action (Azione) party, Carlo Calenda, described the comments as “truly tragic” and Berlusconi as “something between Putin’s press spokesman and military adviser”. The head of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), Enrico Letta, said he was “speechless” and that “voters will choose on September 25”.
After a backlash from all sides, Berlusconi issued a statement on Friday saying his views were “too simplistic”. “Aggression against Ukraine is unjustifiable and unacceptable. The position of the Up Italy party is clear. We will always stand by the EU and NATO,” he added.