June 20. 2024. 1:30

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Berlusconi attacks Zelenskyy, urges US to stop the ‘gentleman’

Italy’s opposition left has urged Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni to react to former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi who lashed out at Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for actions he says have led to death and devastation in Ukraine.

Berlusconi also called Washington to step in and use the funds to rebuild Ukraine to stop Zelenskyy’s “attack” against the “two autonomous republics of the Donbas”.

“We are witnessing the devastation of his country and the slaughter of its soldiers and civilians”, Berlusconi said in Milan.

“It was enough if he would stop attacking the two autonomous republics of the Donbas, and this would not have happened. So, I judge this gentleman’s behaviour very, very negatively”, he added.

Berlusconi commented to the press after voting in the Lombardy regional elections in Milan.

Following the fallout between French President Emmanuel Macron and Meloni, after the latter was not invited to the Elysée for a working dinner with Zelenskyy, Berlusconi said if he had been prime minister, he would not have even spoken to the Ukrainian leader.

Berlusconi’s Forza Italia is a partner in Meloni’s (Brothers of Italy) coalition government with Matteo Salvini’s far-right Lega.

Meloni must react to these “disturbing words” and take a stand, the Italian Left said following Berlusconi’s statement.

“Today, he has, in fact, officially sided with Putin’s Russia. With these government allies, the premier should not complain about how she is treated in the EU”, said Democratic Party (PD/S&D) senators’ chair Simona Malpezzi.

“Berlusconi’s pro-Putin and anti-Zelensky statements are a reason for resounding contradiction within the majority on such a fundamental issue as aid to Ukraine. These positions isolate Italy and weaken the western front”, added socialist senator Enrico Borghi.

“An invasion of Ukraine brings the war closer to home, not further away. Whoever helps Ukraine works for peace”, Meloni said during a press conference in Brussels after the European Council summit.

Supplying Ukraine with weapons will not lead to escalation, as threatened by Moscow and denounced by part of the opposition in Italy, but rather is a way to achieve a “balance of forces on the ground”, she added.

But Berlusconi disagrees and points the finger at US President Joe Biden, who, to “achieve peace”, should guarantee Zelenskyy a “6-7-8-9 trillion dollar Marshall Plan” to rebuild Ukraine, on condition that he immediately orders a cease-fire.

Otherwise, the Americans should deny him funds and weapons. “Only something like this could convince this gentleman to come to a cease-fire”, Berlusconi added.

Berlusconi has a long friendship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom he described as one of his dearest friends.

A month after the start of the war in Ukraine, he finally said it was an “unacceptable military aggression”, however, this was followed by a rapprochement with Putin and an exchange of gifts with a “lovely letter”.

Berlusconi ultimately condemned the Russian invasion in October, saying he wished for a negotiated solution “which will put an end to this massacre and protect the rights of the Ukrainian people”.

Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party is affiliated with the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP), which before the Italian elections, called on the Italian electorate to vote for Berlusconi to ensure the pro-EU orientation of Meloni.

(Federica Pascale | EURACTIV.it)