Former Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has defended Russian President Vladimir Putin over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, stating that the Kremlin head was “pushed” to carry out the offensive in Ukraine by Russian people and ministers who wanted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s administration replaced with “decent people”, The Guardian reported citing Italian TV. Berlusconi’s statement comes just before the general election set to take place on Sunday, 24 September.
The ex-Italian PM claimed that separatists had visited Moscow and spoke to the media that Ukrainian attacks had led to 16,000 deaths and Putin was not making any effort to defend them. According to him, Russian troops were supposed to arrive in Kyiv within a week and replace Zelenskyy’s government with “decent people.” However, Ukrainian troops resisted the Russian forces which also received military equipment from the West. Speaking on chat show Porta a Porta, Silvio Berlusconi said, “Putin was pushed by the Russian population, by his party and by his ministers to invent this special operation.” He further added, “The troops were supposed to enter, reach Kyiv within a week, replace Zelenskiy’s government with decent people and then leave. Instead, they found resistance, which was then fed by arms of all kinds from the west.” During his Prime Ministerial tenure, Berlusconi maintained close ties with Putin, praising his leadership and signing energy deals between Russia and Italy.
Furthermore, the Former Italian PM stated that the war has lasted over 200 days and the situation has become “very difficult.” Berlusconi stressed that he feels “ill” when he listens about dead, adding that he has “always believed that war is the greatest madness of all.” The statement of former Italy PM comes at a time when Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced partial mobilization in Russia and warned to use “all possible means” to defend his territory. Reacting to Berlusconi’s statement, Enrico Letta, the leader of the centre-left Democratic party, called the former PM’s remarks “scandalous” and “legitimised Moscow.” It is to mention here that the Forza Italia party supported providing military equipment to Ukraine when they were part of a coalition led by Italy’s PM Mario Draghi which collapsed in July.
The parliamentary elections in Italy is due to take place on Sunday, 24 September. The elections were due to take place in spring 2023, when Parliament’s five-year team was due to end. However, League leader Matteo Salvini and former Premier Silvio Berlusconi pulled out their support from government led by Mario Draghi during a confidence vote in July, that led to collapse of governmnet and paved way for early elections. according to AP. Notably, the former PM Berlusconi is running for Senator in Italy’s general election.