Italy's Prime Minister found herself in an awkward situation over the weekend after one of her most infamous predecessors blasted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Which infamous predecessor?
Silvio Berlusconi, the 86-year-old media tycoon who served three stints as prime minister between 1994 and 2011.
What did he say?
Referring to a meeting last week in Brussels between current Italian PM Giorgia Meloni and President Volodymyr Zelensky, Berlusconi said he would never have met the Ukrainian president because he believes he provoked Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
“Me talk to Zelensky? If I had been President of the Council, I would never have gone there,” he told journalists after voting in regional elections in Lombardy.
“I would never have gone talking to Zelensky because we are witnessing the devastation of his country and the slaughter of its soldiers and civilians.
“It was enough for him [Zelensky] to stop attacking the two autonomous republics of Donbas and all this would not have happened, therefore I judge this gentleman's behavior very, very negatively.”
He also urged the U.S. to pressure Zelensky into a ceasefire by threatening to stop sending arms to Ukraine.
Without mentioning the immense suffering this would cause to Ukrainians currently living under occupation or the fact it would essentially be rewarding Russia for an imperialistic war of aggression with great swathes of Ukrainian land, he said Italy would provide a massive program if Zelensky agreed.
Wow. Why would he say that?
Berlusconi always boasted of being a close friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin when he was in power and has consistently taken the Kremlin’s line over the last year.
In September, he caused an uproar by suggesting that Putin had been "pushed" by his population and the pro-Russian forces of Donbas to invade Ukraine.
He also claimed that Russian troops were only in Ukraine to replace the government with "decent people," then they would leave.
Does anyone listen to what he says anymore?
Berlusconi is still an influential figure in Italian politics and leads the Forza Italia party, a partner in the coalition government led by far-right Meloni.
How has the Italian government responded?
On Sunday, his latest pro-Russian statements swiftly drew a response from Meloni's government which issued a statement stressing that its "support for Ukraine is firm and convinced."
Meloni met Zelensky for talks in Brussels on Thursday, with the possibility of a visit to Kyiv "being organized".
Italy's Foreign Affairs Minister Antonio Tajani, also a member of Forza Italia, said on Twitter the party "has always stood for the independence of Ukraine, on the side of Europe, NATO and the West".
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Sir Berlusconi is a great man, Giorgia Meloni is a fucking nazi bitch as you
Mr. Berlusconi seems to have gone completly senile. Unfortunate for him and Italy
Berlusconi. All mouth, but scared of Russia. Just ignore the fool.
Who is this clown.