The 85-year-old claimed in a television interview on Thursday evening that the Russian president was pressured to invade Ukraine.
– Putin was pressured by the Russian people, by a party, by his ministers to come up with this particular operation, Berlusconi told the Rai TV channel.
He is a friend of the Russian president and hesitated for a long time to condemn the invasion after the war broke out. Now he says: “Putin has ended up in a really difficult and dramatic situation”.
Furthermore, the Forza Italia party leader said that Putin had wanted to replace the government of Volodymyr Zelenskyj in Kyiv “with a government of decent people”.
The statements from the media founder, who in addition to his politics has made a name for himself through a series of scandals, worry all those in Italy who fear a turn against Russia after the election.
Forza Italia forms a smaller part of the right-wing coalition that is likely to win Sunday’s election. Besides Berlusconi, Matteo Salvini is also part of the right-wing bloc. The far-right Lega Nord leader was a fan of Putin for years and criticizes Western sanctions against Moscow.
Truly tragic is the label centre-left candidate Carlo Calenda gives Berlusconi’s performance, calling him something between Putin’s press spokesman and military adviser.
Former Prime Minister Enrico Letta of the Social Democrats tweeted on Friday: “There are no words to comment on this”.