Vladimir Putin and Silvio Berlusconi
Silvio Berlusconi: Putin Was 'Pushed' To 'Invent Special Operation' In Ukraine Photo by Alexey Druzhinin/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images

Italian ex-President Silvio Berlusconi admitted to having a close friendship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Berlusconi said he exchanged gifts of vodka, wine, and letters with the Russian President during his recent birthday. The 86-year-old former Italian president received a stark warning from Italy’s next premier, Giorgia Meloni who said he is risking the loss of influence in any new government over his close ties with Putin. The warning comes after Berlusconi allegedly expressed controversial comments that supported the Russian invasion of Ukraine

According to AP News, the Italian ex-premier is said to have a long, friendly relationship with Putin and had made some comments to his Forza Italia lawmakers during a meeting in the lower Chambers of Deputies this week. The comments, published by Italy's LaPresse news agency, state that Berlusconi had reconnected with Putin and was overheard saying he had received around 20 bottles of vodka and a “sweet” letter for his 86th birthday, and responded with a similar gift with 20 bottles of Lambrusco and an equally touching letter.

The comments made headlines while Italy’s conservative coalition run by Meloni is appointing cabinet posts before a new government is formed during formal consultations this week. Meloni has supposedly backed Ukraine in its war against Russia, however, his Brothers of Italy party did not immediately respond to the ex-premier’s comments.

Enrico Letta of the opposing Democratic Party wrote on social media that he recalled another member of Meloni’s coalition, the right-wing League, criticizing the sanctions the European Union placed on Russia as they affect the Italian economy.

He then referenced the lower Chamber president that questioned the EU sanction and Berlusconi’s rekindled friendship with Putin. The Renew Europe group, which also consists of centrist and liberal lawmakers, urged the European People’s Party, which Forza Italia is under, to condemn Berlusconi’s comments. The EPP group claimed that Putin is a threat and must be swiftly defeated.

Meloni has strongly backed NATO and Ukraine’s effort to repel the Russian offensive. She has stressed that Italy will not be allowed to be the “weak link of the west” while her party remains in government. Meloni’s party, although has supposed roots in “neo-fascism” continues to show its staunch support for the Ukrainian war effort.

Silvio Berlusconi
Newly elected senator Silvio Berlusconi attends the first session of the XIX legislature at the Italian Senate, on October 13, 2022 in Rome, Italy. Photo by Alessandra Benedetti - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

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