WorldBerlusconi Draws Backlash for Saying Putin Was ‘Pushed’ to...

Berlusconi Draws Backlash for Saying Putin Was ‘Pushed’ to Invade Ukraine

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Italy’s former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, mentioned 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 proper that’s favored in Sunday’s vote and his allies have praised the insurance policies of controversial European leaders like Viktor Orban of Hungary. For the reason that invasion of Ukraine, Mr. Berlusconi had not appeared significantly supportive of his longtime buddy, Mr. Putin.

However in an look on a night speak present on Thursday, Mr. Berlusconi mentioned, “Putin was pushed by the Russian individuals, by his get together, by his ministers to provide you with this particular operation” — utilizing the Russian chief’s most well-liked euphemism for the warfare.

Mr. Berlusconi mentioned that Russian forces had been alleged to enter Ukraine and attain the capital, Kyiv, in every week with a view to overturn the federal government and put “first rate individuals” in energy earlier than returning to Russia.

“However they encountered surprising and unpredictable resistance from the Ukrainian troops,” he mentioned, noting that Western nations had offered weapons to Ukraine.

“I haven’t even understood why Russian troops unfold round Ukraine whereas in my thoughts they need to have solely caught round Kyiv,” he mentioned calmly.

With Italy attributable 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 Occasion, referred to as Mr. Berlusconi’s phrases “scandalous and really critical.”

“If on Sunday evening the result’s favorable to the proper, the happiest particular person could 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 previous buddy 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 mentioned that his place — and that of his get together, Forza Italia — was “with the European Union and NATO.”

Italy’s present authorities has condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, supported Ukraine’s utility to affix the European Union and shipped arms to the nation.

Nationalist political leaders, nonetheless, have tended to echo Kremlin traces on the warfare. Giorgia Meloni, the chief of the far-right Brothers of Italy who’s extensively anticipated to grow to be the following prime minister, has been a constant and outspoken supporter of Ukraine all through the warfare — partly to reassure a world viewers that she is a reputable and acceptable possibility.

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