“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”.
“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 was also quoted by the APA agency.
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 on Twitter that he was “speechless” and that “voters will choose on September 25”.
According to the DPA agency, Berlusconi fueled the fears of some analysts about a change in the Italian government’s foreign policy if it is formed by a right-wing bloc. In addition to Berlusconi’s Up Italy party, it also includes two far-right groups, League and Brothers of Italy.
League leader Matteo Salvini has also defended Putin in the past and this year has repeatedly criticized the sanctions imposed by the West on Moscow due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. However, Giorgia Meloni, whose Brothers of Italy party has the best chance of winning Sunday’s election according to polls, has said several times that she will continue to support Ukraine, as Mario Draghi’s government has done so far.
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