Putin was ‘pushed’ in Ukraine war, says Italy’s Berlusconi

Forza Italia leader Silvio Berlusconi speaks during the center-right coalition’s election campaign rally in Piazza del Popolo on September 22, 2022 in Rome, Italy, ahead of the September 25 general election. Reuters/Yara Nardi

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  • Russia’s Putin, a longtime friend of Berlusconi
  • Berlusconi’s right-wing will win the September 25 election
  • Italian leader says Putin envisaged a quick war

ROME, Sep 23 (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin was “pushed” to attack Ukraine and wanted to put “civilized people” in charge of Kyiv, former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said in Italy’s election. Just before it has been said with sharp criticism.

The Italian leader, whose Forza Italia party belongs to a right-wing coalition that is expected to win the general election on Sunday, is a longtime friend of Putin and his comments are likely to worry Western allies. read more

“Putin was inspired to come up with this particular campaign by the Russian people, by his party, by his ministers,” Berlusconi told Italian public television RAI late Thursday, using the official Russian words for the war.

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Russia’s plan was originally to conquer Kyiv “in a week”, and replace democratically elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky with a “civilized people’s government” and exit “in another week”.

“I don’t even understand why Russian troops dispersed around Ukraine, when in my mind they should have only been around Kyiv”, said Berlusconi, 85, who once described Putin as a younger brother. was.

Putin’s declared war objectives during the Seven Months War differ. Ukraine initially pursued its troops from the Kyiv region, and more recently from parts of the northeast near the Russian border. Putin now says the main objective is to secure territory in Ukraine’s Donbass region, partly controlled by pro-Russian separatists. read more

Facing widespread condemnation from opponents for his words, Berlusconi issued a statement Friday saying his views had been “over-simplified”.

“Aggression against Ukraine is unjustified and unacceptable, (Forza Italia’s) position is clear. We will always be with the EU and NATO,” he said.

“Totally outrageous”

Under outgoing Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Italy has been a staunch supporter of Western sanctions on Russia after the invasion.

Giorgia Meloni, of Italy’s far-right brothers, who have been tipped as the next chief, have pledged to remain in that position, but Berlusconi and his other League ally, Matteo Salvini, have been more bisexual.

Center-left Democratic Party leader Enrico Letta said of Berlusconi’s remarks, “These are reprehensible and very serious words.” “If the result turns out to be right on Sunday night, Putin will be the happiest,” Letta said on RAI radio.

Centrist leader Carlo Calenda, another election contender, told Radio 24: “Yesterday Berlusconi spoke like a Putin general. It’s completely disgraceful.”

Berlusconi said Thursday that Moscow’s decision to strike came in response to an appeal by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

He said his leader had gone to the Kremlin and told Putin directly, “Please protect us, because if you don’t defend us, we don’t know where we can get to.”

Voting began on Friday in four regions of Ukraine held mostly by Russian forces, including separatists, the start of Putin’s plan to annex a large part of Ukraine. read more

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Reporting by Elvis Armellini; Editing by Frank Jack Daniels and Crispian Balmer

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principals.

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