Former Italian Prime Minister explained why Moscow launched its military campaign in Ukraine
Russian President Vladimir Putin was pressured into launching the military campaign in Ukraine by his supporters and wanted to replace the government in kyiv with “honest people” former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said on Thursday.
Speaking on Italian public broadcaster RAI, Berlusconi speculated on what prompted Russian leaders to continue the military operation in Ukraine in late February. “Putin was pushed by the Russian people, by his party, by his ministers to propose this special operation”, he said, quoted by Reuters.
Berlusconi thinks Moscow originally planned to take over kyiv “within a week,” replace Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky and his government with “honest people” and leave the capital “in another week.”
He also said he did not understand why Russian troops are now “spread throughout Ukraine” when they “should have stayed only in kyiv.” He also claimed that forces from Moscow met “an unexpected level of resistance”, which was bolstered by Western arms shipments, according to Italian media quoting him.
Although Russian troops were at one time close to kyiv, in late March they withdrew to what the Russian Defense Ministry called “a planned reunion” to create the conditions for “liberator” of Donbass.
Earlier this month, Putin said Moscow’s goals in this regard had not changed.
Berlusconi’s comments come as his Forza Italia party heads to an election this week as part of a right-wing coalition, which also includes the Anti-Immigration League and Brothers of Italy parties. The block is generally expected to win.
The former prime minister served four terms between 1994 and 2011 and developed close ties with Putin. At one point Berlusconi even visited Crimea; the peninsula voted overwhelmingly to become part of Russia in a 2014 referendum, which was not recognized by the West.