Ukraine would agree to sit at the negotiating table if offered financial aid but no weapons, Italy’s former prime minister says
https://www.rt.com-Forza Italia leader Silvio Berlusconi leaves the Quirinale Presidential Palace, Friday, Oct. 21, 2022. © AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia
Western nations should stop supplying Ukraine with weapons if they want a peaceful solution to the ongoing conflict between Kiev and Moscow, Italy’s former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, told journalist Bruno Vespa over the weekend. He believes that the prospect of getting no military aid but a large reconstruction fund could convince Kiev to agree to the talks with Moscow.
According to Berlusconi, Zelensky would only agree to any sort of a deal with Moscow “if Ukraine realizes at some point that it can no longer count on weapons and aid” at the same time. Instead, the West could offer Kiev “hundreds of billions of dollars for reconstruction” as a stimulus to enter the negotiations, the politician added.
The former prime minister, who now leads the Forza Italia party, also believes that Ukraine should recognize Crimea as a Russian territory, according to La Repubblica newspaper that published excerpts from his interview with Vespa. A new referendum that would involve Western observers should also be held in Donbass to determine its fate, he added.
The former prime minister also called Russian President Vladimir Putin “a man of peace.” Berlusconi admitted he tried to reach out to Putin when the conflict between Moscow and Kiev broke out in late February but could not contact him by phone.
His words sparked some angry reactions from Italian politicians. A former Italian economy minister, Carlo Calenda, was quick to accuse Berlusconi of spreading “propaganda for Putin regardless of the consequences.” He also claimed that any coalition government is doomed if it cannot agree on a common foreign policy line. Berlusconi’s Forza Italia is now part of a government coalition together with Giorgia Meloni’s Meloni’s Brothers of Italy, and Matteo Salvini’s League party.
An Italian MP, Lia Quartapelle, blasted Berlusconi’s proposal as “a recipe … for surrender.” She also said that Berlusconi himself would be a “big problem” for Meloni, who recently took over as Italy’s prime minister.
Berlusconi already faced criticism after he said he supposedly received 20 bottles of vodka from Putin as a birthday gift. According to Der Spiegel, the “gift” might have amounted to nothing less than an EU sanctions violation. The magazine cited an EU Commission secretary, who pointed to the April 2022 ban on goods imports from Russia to the EU, including spirits.
In his interview with Vespa, Berlusconi commented on this supposed controversy by saying that everyone “understood that he was joking” at that time.