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Italy's far-right coalition Berlusconi comments in turmoil over Ukraine | Silvio Berlusconi

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Silvio Berlusconi claimed that President Volodymyr Zelenskiy had “provoked” Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, triggering a new political strife and threatening the stability of Italy a few days before the new government took power.

Berlusconi, a three-time former prime minister and leader of the Forza Italia party, a junior partner in the far-right coalition that won the general election in September, is at the center of political turmoil after a series of leaked audio recordings. He reconnects with Vladimir Putin and blames Zelensky for causing Moscow to invade.

In the latest clip released Wednesday by La Presse agency, Berlusconi can be heard defending his “old friend” Putin and Zelenskiy provoking the invasion of Moscow by “tripling the attacks” against Russian-backed separatists in Donbas.

“The Donbas Republics finally sent a delegation to Moscow and told Putin, ‘Please defend us,’” Berlusconi said. “Putin was against any initiative, but under great pressure from the Russian people, so he invented this special operation: The plan was for his troops to enter Ukraine, overthrow Zelensky and install a government made up of a Ukrainian minority in his place. It consists of honest, sane people.”

Berlusconi added that when the Russian army invaded Ukraine, they “faced with a situation that Putin could not have predicted, with the resistance of the Ukrainians, who began to receive money and weapons from the west.” And special operations turned into a 200-year-old war.”

The former Prime Minister, who was previously recorded as one of the Russian leader’s five best friends, said he could not see how Putin and Zelenskiy could sit at a negotiating table.

“Because there is no possible way. Zelensky, I think… I can’t say forget it,” the recording continued.

“There is no real leader in the West,” said Berlusconi. “I can make you smile, I’m the only real leader.”

In a previous quote published Tuesday, Berlusconi said that Putin sent him 20 bottles of vodka for his 86th birthday.

These words sparked a debate in the right-wing coalition led by Giorgia Meloni, who will be sworn into government next week. Meloni, who promised to maintain Italy’s support for Ukraine and EU sanctions against Russia due to the invasion, gave Berlusconi an ultimatum to either support NATO’s stance against Russia or not join his newly formed government.

After the recordings were released, opposition leaders met with President Sergio Mattarella on Thursday and voiced their concerns about Italy’s future.

“Italy must be a reliable country and that means we have an obligation to continue to condemn Russia and to support Ukraine,” said Democratic Party leader Enrico Letta. That’s why I find Berlusconi’s words extremely pathetic, and I told Mattarella that these words constitute a serious attack on our country’s credibility.”

“While Signor Berlusconi, along with ‘Putin’s five friends’ in Europe, is under the influence of Russian vodka, Giorgia Meloni demonstrates what real principles and understanding of global challenges are,” said Mykhailo Podolyak, Zelenskiy’s adviser.

Forza Italia (FI) coordinator Antonio Tajani said on Thursday that the party and its leader, Silvio Berlusconi, are firmly behind NATO during the pre-European Council meeting of the European People’s Party (EPP) and are opposed to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. said they were.

“I am here to reaffirm the stance of my party, my personal position and the leader of my party wholly in favor of NATO and transatlantic relations, in favor of Europe and against the unacceptable invasion of Russia. Ukraine,” said Tajani.