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Silvio Berlusconi DEFENDS Putin’s Invasion of Ukraine, Claims Despot Was ‘Pushed’ Into Invasion

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Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi DEFENDS Putin’s Invasion of Ukraine, Claims Despot Was ‘Pushed’ into Invasion

  • Berlusconi said Putin was ‘pushed’ to conduct his ‘special operation’
  • The 85-year-old withdrew, saying his comments were ‘too simple’
  • Berlusconi expected to be the minor party in Italy’s new coalition government

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Silvio Berlusconi has sparked anger by claiming that Vladimir Putin was “pushed” to invade Ukraine and only wants “decent people” in charge of Kiev.

The Italian leader and former prime minister, whose Forza Italia party belongs to a right-wing coalition expected to win Sunday’s general election, is an old friend of Putin’s and his comments are likely to alarm Western allies.

“Putin was pressured by the Russian people, by his party, by his ministers to come up with this special operation,” Berlusconi told Italian public television RAI on Thursday, using the official Russian wording for the war. .

Silvio Berlusconi has sparked anger by claiming Vladimir Putin was 'pushed' to invade Ukraine

Silvio Berlusconi has sparked anger by claiming Vladimir Putin was ‘pushed’ to invade Ukraine

The Italian leader and former prime minister is an old friend of Putin, and his comments are likely to alarm Western allies (pictured in 2015)

The Italian leader and former prime minister is an old friend of Putin, and his comments are likely to alarm Western allies (pictured in 2015)

The Italian leader and former prime minister is an old friend of Putin, and his comments are likely to alarm Western allies (pictured in 2015)

Russia’s original plan was to capture Kiev “within a week” and replace democratically elected Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelensky with “a government of decent people” and leave “within a week,” he said.

“I didn’t even understand why Russian troops spread across Ukraine when in my mind they should have just stayed around Kiev,” said Berlusconi, 85, who once described Putin as a younger brother.

Putin’s war goals varied during the seven-month war. Ukraine initially pushed its troops out of the Kiev area, and more recently from parts of the northeast near the border with Russia.

Putin now says the main goal is to secure territory in Ukraine’s Donbas region, which is partially controlled by pro-Russian separatists.

Berlusconi faced widespread condemnation from opponents for his words and released a statement Friday saying his views were “too simple”.

“The aggression against Ukraine is unjustifiable and unacceptable, the position of (Forza Italia) is clear. We will always be with the EU and NATO,” he said.

Berlusconi's Forza Italia party belongs to a right-wing coalition expected to win Sunday's general election

Berlusconi's Forza Italia party belongs to a right-wing coalition expected to win Sunday's general election

Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party belongs to a right-wing coalition expected to win Sunday’s general election

A man walks on a destroyed bridge in Kochetok, Kharkiv region, amid the barbarian invasion of Russia

A man walks on a destroyed bridge in Kochetok, Kharkiv region, amid the barbarian invasion of Russia

A man walks on a destroyed bridge in Kochetok, Kharkiv region, amid the barbarian invasion of Russia

A woman collects wood for heating from a destroyed school where Russian troops were stationed in the recently recaptured area of ​​Izium

A woman collects wood for heating from a destroyed school where Russian troops were stationed in the recently recaptured area of ​​Izium

A woman collects wood for heating from a destroyed school where Russian troops were stationed in the recently recaptured area of ​​Izium

Under outgoing Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Italy was a staunch supporter of Western sanctions against Russia after the invasion.

Giorgia Meloni of the far-right Brothers of Italy, tipped as the next prime minister, has pledged to stick to that position, but Berlusconi and her other League ally Matteo Salvini were more ambivalent.

Berlusconi has brushed off his ill health and scandal to remain a key player in the right-wing alliance, even though his Forza Italia is now the junior partner of the three main sides.

“These are outrageous and very serious words,” said the leader of the center-left Democratic Party, Enrico Letta, of Berlusconi’s comments.

A Ukrainian soldier stands next to a destroyed freight car hit by Russian shelling

A Ukrainian soldier stands next to a destroyed freight car hit by Russian shelling

A Ukrainian soldier stands next to a destroyed freight car hit by Russian shelling

“If the result on Sunday evening is favorable for the right, then Putin is the happiest,” Letta said on RAI radio.

Centrist leader Carlo Calenda, another election candidate, told Radio24: “Yesterday Berlusconi spoke like a Putin general. It’s just outrageous.’

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

He said their leaders had gone to the Kremlin and said directly to Putin, “Please defend us, because if you don’t defend us, we don’t know where we could end up.”

Voting began on Friday in four Ukrainian regions largely controlled by Russian forces, including the separatists, beginning a Putin plan to annex much of Ukraine.