The former Prime Minister of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi, said in an interview with Italian television last night that Russian President Vladimir Putin was “forced” to invade Ukraine, which Berlusconi called a “military operation”, while using the Russian terminology for war.
Berlusconi added that Moscow’s final decision to invade Ukraine came following an appeal by the pro-Russian separatist leaders, who claimed in the Kremlin that they needed protection, otherwise they did not know “how they would proceed from here on.”
“The Russian plan was to conquer Kyiv in about a week, replace President Vladimir Zelensky with a government with decent people, and leave Ukraine after another week,” the former prime minister added. “I don’t understand why the Russian soldiers spread all over Ukraine, when in my opinion, they should have focused mainly on Kiev.”
Berlusconi’s words come against the backdrop of Putin’s announcement this week of partial mobilization for the needs of the war in Ukraine, and the successful counterattack by the Ukrainians that has succeeded in liberating at least 40 settlements so far from the hands of the Russian occupation.
The Italian government under Mario Draghi, who resigned last July, clearly supported the imposition of Western economic sanctions on Russia. On the other hand, Berlusconi, who belongs to a right-wing coalition expected to gain victory in the general elections this coming Sunday, has repeatedly expressed his support for Putin’s actions in Ukraine, actions that have highlighted the rift and division within the Italian government.