RUSSIA/ITALY: Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi has blamed Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky for “provoking” President Vladimir Putin’s Russia to invade Ukraine.
Berlusconi’s comment on Zelensky has sparked a new political clash, endangering the stability of Italy’s new government just days before it is anticipated to take power.
The comment was made in the Palazzo Montecitori during a closed-door meeting with freshly elected Forza senators.
The former prime minister, Berlusconi, is at the centre of a political uproar after he was caught saying in a leaked audio recording that Putin’s true objective was to seize Kyiv and depose Zelensky.
In the audio, Berlusconi accused Ukraine of breaking the Minsk accord in the Donbas territories and claimed that the deaths of “five, six, and seven thousand” people in those areas were what prompted Putin’s request for protection.
Berlusconi said in a recorded statement, “He is against any initiative, he resists, and he is under enormous pressure from Russia. So he decides to create a special operation: the troops were meant to enter Ukraine, arrive in Kyiv in a week, overthrow the current administration, Zelensky, and others, and install a government already picked by the Ukrainian minority made of more rational leaders.”
Berlusconi mentioned the “unexpected and unforeseen” resistance, as well as the financing and weapons from the West that Moscow encountered when fighting.
He said, “On Day 3, a special operation that was scheduled to last two weeks turned into a conflict that will last for more than 200 years. So, there you have it. I don’t see how Putin and Zelensky can sit down at the negotiation table because there isn’t a feasible alternative. Zelensky, in my opinion… forget it, I’m not sure.”
On February 24, Russia invaded Ukraine, but in early April, Ukrainian forces retook a sizable portion of the region surrounding Kyiv. Early in September, when it drove Russian troops out of the Kharkiv region, Ukraine reclaimed 6,000 square kilometres (2,317 square miles) of the Russian land.
Since the assault started, Moscow has sustained substantial losses, and a sizable number of Russian weapons have also been destroyed or taken prisoner.
World powers have united in favour of Ukraine, enacting sweeping sanctions, isolating Russia from the international community, and providing Ukraine with armaments and defence systems.
Ben Wallace, the defence secretary for Britain, declared last week that the country would provide anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine to protect its airspace against Russian attacks.
At a meeting of NATO defence ministers in Brussels, Britain announced it would contribute to a financing package to help deliver humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, including winter clothing, shelters, generators, fuel trucks, and ambulances.