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

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Silvio Berlusconi, leader of Forza Italia, addresses the final election rally of the center-right coalition in Piazza del Popolo ahead of the 25 September general elections in Rome, Italy, 22 September 2022 To do. REUTERS/Yara Nardi

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  • Russia’s Putin is Berlusconi’s longtime friend
  • Berlusconi’s right-wing camp likely to win Sept. 25 elections
  • Italian leader says Putin envisioned quick war

ROME (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin was “driven” by the invasion of Ukraine and wanted “decent people” to leave Kyiv, former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said ahead of Italian elections and received severe criticism.

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

“President Putin was pressured by the Russian people, his party and his ministers to come up with this special operation,” Berlusconi told Italian public TV RAI late Thursday. spoke using the Russian language of

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Russia’s original plan was to conquer Kyiv “in a week”, replace the democratically elected President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky with a “government of decent people” and withdraw “in another week” That was it.

Berlusconi, 85, who once called Putin like a younger brother, said, “I didn’t understand why Russian troops were scattered around Ukraine. In my opinion, they should have stayed only around Kyiv.” ‘ said.

Putin’s stated objectives for the war varied during the seven months of war. Ukraine initially pursued its forces from the Kyiv region and more recently from the northeast near the Russian border. It states that it is to secure the territory of the Donbass region. read more

Berlusconi issued a statement on Friday in the face of widespread criticism from opponents for his remarks, saying his views were “overly simplistic”.

“The attack on Ukraine is unjustified and unacceptable. (Forza Italia’s) position is clear. We will always stand with the EU and NATO,” he said.

“absolutely ridiculous”

Under outgoing Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Italy has strongly supported Western sanctions against Russia after its invasion.

Italy’s far-right Brothers of Italy’s Giorgia Meloni, who has been nominated as the next prime minister, has pledged to stick to the position, but Berlusconi and her ally Matteo Salvini of the League are more ambiguous.

“These are scandalous and very serious words,” Enrico Letta, leader of the centre-left Democratic Party, said of Berlusconi’s comments. “Putin would be happiest if Sunday night had an outcome in favor of the right,” Retta told RAI radio.

Another candidate, centrist party leader Carlo Calenda, told Radio 24:

Berlusconi said on Thursday that Moscow’s decision to invade was in response to complaints by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

He said their leader went to the Kremlin and told Putin directly.

Voting began on Friday in four regions of Ukraine largely dominated by Russian forces, including separatists, kicking off Putin’s plan to annex most of Ukraine. read more

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Reporting by Alvise Armellini.Edited by Frank Jack Daniels and Crispian Ballmer

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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