Italy’s Berlusconi has been accused of exchanging alcohol and “sweet letters” with Putin.

ROME — Ex-Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi, recently returning to front-line politics, is reunited with his old friend, Russian President Vladimir Putin, exchanging gifts and “sweet” letters for his recent birthday. Berlusconi, a key member of a right-wing coalition seeking to form a government after pledging to support Ukraine, has been recorded boasting that the two recently reconnected. The remarks provoked backlash from a woman who would become the next leader in Brussels and Italy, who promised to support Ukraine while the government covered up Berlusconi. “For my birthday, he sent me 20 bottles of vodka and a very sweet letter,” he said, according to the Italian news agency Lafresse, who posted the comment. sweetly.” “I was declared to him the first of his five true friends,” he said. In 2003, Putin presented a book about his country cottage to Berlusconi in Zavido, northwest of Moscow. Viktor Korotaev/AP made headlines in Italy as a conservative coalition led by Giorgia Meloni, who supported Ukraine in recent elections. A decision is being made on who will form the cabinet before official talks to form a new government this week. Meloni needs the support of Forza Italia to maintain a majority in the Senate and House. Among other ministries, the party has expressed interest in leading the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Matteo Salvini of the League, another ally of Meloni’s, has repeatedly urged Italy to end sanctions against Russia. Meloni’s Italian Brotherhood, rooted in a fascist party founded by supporters of dictator Benito Mussolini, did not immediately and publicly respond to these remarks, but Meloni herself later issued a sharp statement. The foreign policy line should not join a government set to take power next week. “In the government, we and Italy cannot be a weak link to the West,” said Meloni, who has firmly defended Ukraine since the Russian invasion in February. , and supported Western sanctions on Moscow. I will lead the government on a clear and unwavering diplomatic line,” he said. “Anyone who does not agree with this cornerstone cannot be a member of government.” Opposition Democrat Enrico Letta, who has warned that Meloni’s right-wing coalition is a threat to democracy, has vehemently condemned it. In a tweet, he recalled that another coalition member, the Right-wing Alliance, had questioned the EU sanctions against Russia because of its impact on the Italian economy. Opposition party?” Written by Leta “President. [lower] Chamber of Commerce legalizing EU sanctions against Russia? … Berlusconi reunited with the Ukrainian invaders?” This isn’t the first time Berlusconi has defended Putin’s long and friendly history. He hosted Putin in a villa in Sardinia, and visited Crimea with Putin after Russia annexed the peninsula from Ukraine in 2014. “The military enters Kyiv within a week, [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Berlusconi told his favorite late-night talk show host on September 22 to spend Zelensky’s mistress with good people and then leave. He later stepped behind him, saying his words were “oversimplified”. Comments from reporters whose Forza Italia party tried to distance themselves. “The positions of Italian Presidents Forza and Silvio Berlusconi on the conflict in Ukraine and Russia’s responsibility are known to all and are consistent with those of Europe and the United States and have been reaffirmed at various public events,” the party said in a statement. . “There is no room for ambiguity and there has never been.” European Commission spokeswoman Navila Masralli was asked to respond to her comments at her Wednesday briefing, recalling that EU member states are free to engage in bilateral contacts with Moscow while respecting the Russian government. EU policy to reduce these relationships to “minimum necessary levels”. “The priority of these contacts, as well as the EU’s position on illegal aggression and aggression in Ukraine, should be communicated and urged on the Russian side to immediately stop this and comply with international law,” she said. Although vodka imports are banned from Russia, Massrali said he would inquire if the ban would also apply to gifts. Claudio Lavanga is a Rome-based producer and correspondent for NBC News. The Associated Press and Reuters contributed.
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