Ukraine would agree to sit at the negotiating table if offered financial aid but no arms, says former Italian PM
Western countries should stop supplying arms to Ukraine if they want a peaceful solution to the ongoing conflict between kyiv and Moscow, former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi told journalist Bruno Vespa over the weekend. He believes that the prospect of receiving no military aid but a large reconstruction fund could convince kyiv to accept talks with Moscow.
According to Berlusconi, Zelensky would only accept some kind of agreement with Moscow “if Ukraine realizes at some point that it can no longer rely on arms and aid” at a time. Instead, the West could offer kyiv “hundreds of billions of dollars for reconstruction” as an incentive to enter negotiations, the politician added.
The former prime minister, who now leads the Forza Italia party, also believes that Ukraine should recognize Crimea as Russian territory, according to La Repubblica newspaper which 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 trying to contact Putin when the Moscow-kyiv conflict erupted in late February, but was unable to contact him by phone.
His words sparked angry reactions from Italian politicians. A former Italian economy minister, Carlo Calenda, was quick to to accuse Broadcast Berlusconi “propaganda for Putin regardless of the consequences.” He also said that any coalition government is doomed if it fails to agree on a common line of foreign policy. Berlusconi’s Forza Italia is now part of a government coalition with Giorgia Meloni’s Meloni Brothers of Italy and Matteo Salvini’s League party.
An Italian MP, Lia Quartapelle, struck down Berlusconi’s proposal as “a recipe…for surrender.” She also said that Berlusconi himself would be a “big problem” for Meloni, who recently took office as Italian Prime Minister.
Berlusconi has already faced criticism after he said he received 20 bottles of vodka from Putin as a birthday present. According to Der Spiegel, the “present” could have amounted to nothing less than a breach of EU sanctions. The magazine quoted a secretary of the European Commission, who pointed to the April 2022 ban on imports of goods from Russia to the EU, including spirits.
In his interview with Vespa, Berlusconi commented on this alleged controversy saying that everyone “understood that he was joking” at this moment.
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