Italy’s Berlusconi brags about his friendship with Putin in leaked audio

Berlusconi says in the audio that Putin sent him 20 bottles of vodka and “a very sweet letter” for his birthday last month.

His office confirmed with CNN on Thursday that the clips were genuine, apparently recorded secretly during a meeting of Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party in the parliamentary chamber on Tuesday.

“I sent him bottles of Lambrusco (Italian sparkling wine) and an equally sweet letter,” Berlusconi says in the LaPresse audio clip.

He also claims to have “reestablished relations with President Putin”, boasting that the Russian leader called him “the first of his five true friends”.

A party spokesman denied Berlusconi was in contact with Putin, saying the former prime minister had told MPs “an old story referring to an episode many years ago”.

However, in LaPresse audio, Berlusconi can be heard saying that Putin “was against any initiative” for war against Ukraine.

The comments have raised eyebrows among observers in Ukraine, where Berlusconi is expected to be part of Italy’s next coalition government led by ultraconservative Giorgia Meloni, who has been a staunch supporter of Ukraine.

“I do not deny my past friendship”

Berlusconi can also be heard talking to his party members and blaming Ukraine for Russia’s invasion in the audio clip: “In 2014, in Minsk, Belarus, an agreement was signed between Ukraine and the two newly formed Donbas republics, a peace agreement. nobody attacks each other.” , he says. “A year later, Ukraine throws this treaty to hell and starts attacking the borders of the two republics. Both republics had military losses.”
The Ukrainian government in Kiev says the two refugee regions are temporarily occupied by Russia. The self-declared republics are not recognized by any international government except Russia and some of its allies.

“In desperation, the two republics … sent a delegation to Moscow … and finally managed to talk to Putin. They say: ‘Vladimir, we don’t know what to do, you (must) defend us.'” Berlusconi says in the audio.

“(Putin) opposes any initiative (to attack Ukraine), he resists. (In the face of intense pressure from all over Russia (then) he decided to come up with a special operation: (Russian) troops enter Ukraine, arrive in Kiev in a week, overthrow. the current government, (President of Ukraine Volodymyr) Zelensky, etc., and the minority of good people and common sense of Ukraine already formed the elected government, and a week to return the troops to Russia.’

Giorgia Meloni has won a victory to become Italy's far-right prime minister since Mussolini

In the recording, Berlusconi said at the time: “He (Putin) entered Ukraine and was faced with a situation of unexpected and unexpected resistance from the Ukrainians, because the other day they started receiving money and weapons from the West (war. .) And the war, instead of being a two-week operation, two It has become the war of the century. So this is the situation of the war in Ukraine.”

He also doubts that “Putin and Zelensky can sit at a mediation table. Because there is no possible way,” according to the LaPresse audio.

Berlusconi defended his comments in an interview with Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper on Thursday.

“Everything was taken out of context. It was spread without knowing the global meaning of my words. With a single framework to spread disinformation and lies,” he said.

“I do not deny the past friendship with Vladimir Putin, which brought important results, achieved in agreement with our Western allies… But today the situation has changed.”