Italy’s former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, stated that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia was “pushed” to invade Ukraine, remarks that drew fierce criticism days earlier than an election.
Mr. Berlusconi, 85, is operating in a coalition on the best that’s favored in Sunday’s vote and his allies have praised the insurance policies of controversial European leaders like Viktor Orban of Hungary. Since the invasion of Ukraine, Mr. Berlusconi had not appeared notably supportive of his longtime pal, Mr. Putin.
But in an look on a night discuss present on Thursday, Mr. Berlusconi stated, “Putin was pushed by the Russian people, by his party, by his ministers to come up with this special operation” — utilizing the Russian chief’s most well-liked euphemism for the struggle.
Mr. Berlusconi stated that Russian forces had been supposed to enter Ukraine and attain the capital, Kyiv, in per week so as to overturn the federal government and put “decent people” in energy earlier than returning to Russia.
“But they encountered unexpected and unpredictable resistance from the Ukrainian troops,” he stated, noting that Western nations had supplied weapons to Ukraine.
“I haven’t even understood why Russian troops spread around Ukraine while in my mind they should have only stuck around Kyiv,” he stated calmly.
With Italy due to vote on Sunday in nationwide elections, political condemnation of Mr. Berlusconi’s perceived protection of Mr. Putin was swift.
Enrico Letta, the chief of the opposition Democratic Party, known as Mr. Berlusconi’s phrases “scandalous and very serious.”
“If on Sunday night the result is favorable to the right, the happiest person would be Putin,” Mr. Letta instructed Italy’s nationwide broadcaster, RAI.
Mr. Berlusconi, who wore furry hats with Mr. Putin in his dacha in Sochi, has condemned the violence in Ukraine however been reluctant to immediately critique his outdated pal for the reason that invasion in late February.
After his remarks brought about an uproar on Friday, Mr. Berlusconi wrote on Twitter that his phrases had been taken out of context. He stated that his place — and that of his occasion, Forza Italia — was “with the European Union and NATO.”
Italy’s present authorities has condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, supported Ukraine’s software to be a part of the European Union and shipped arms to the nation.
Nationalist political leaders, nonetheless, have tended to echo Kremlin traces on the struggle. Giorgia Meloni, the chief of the far-right Brothers of Italy who’s broadly anticipated to turn out to be the subsequent prime minister, has been a constant and outspoken supporter of Ukraine all through the struggle — partially to reassure a world viewers that she is a reputable and acceptable choice.
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