Rome, October 20
Italy’s presumed next premier, Giorgia Meloni, issued a stark warning to Silvio Berlusconi on Wednesday that he risked losing influence in any new government over his friendship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, as she asserted a strong pro-NATO, pro-European position about Russia’s war in Ukraine.
“Italy will never be the weak link of the West with us in government,” Meloni said in a statement late Wednesday.
She was responding to private comments by Berlusconi to his Forza Italia lawmakers this week in which the three-time premier boasted of having re-established contact with Putin and exchanged gifts of vodka and wine over his recent 86th birthday, while justifying Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
“I have reconnected with President Putin – a little, a lot,” Berlusconi was heard saying in comments that were recorded and released by the LaPresse news agency.