Italy’s Berlusconi offers to help resolve Ukraine crisis
Western attempts to force Russia to change course in Ukraine with economic sanctions are backfiring, former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has said. The conflict must be resolved through diplomacy, he added, offering himself and former German Chancellor Angela Merkel as potential mediators.
Berlusconi, who is currently running for a seat in the Italian Senate, made the suggestion on Wednesday night on the TV program Porta a Porta.
Discussing the situation in Ukraine, he argued that Russia will not be swayed by sanctions from the US and its allies. The recent G7 initiative to enforce a price cap on Russian oil will also fail, since there will be high demand for Russian crude in countries like China and India, he added.
Berlusconi lamented the fact that Russia is being pushed into allying itself with China, while his dream is to one day see Russia become a member of the EU.
Host Bruno Vespa asked if Berlusconi could leverage his personal relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The politician said the hostilities in Ukraine have to end with diplomacy, so someone will eventually need to be the mediator between Putin and Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky.
“There is a person who could do that instead of me or together with me. It’s former German Chancellor Angela Merkel,” he said. “With Merkel, I feel I could try to mediate and put an end to the conflict between Ukraine and Russia.”
Berlusconi served four terms at the helm of the Italian government between 1994 and 2011, and had multiple meetings with Putin. The two politicians developed friendly relations and maintained personal contacts well after Berlusconi’s tenure as prime minister ended.
The veteran politician heads the center-right Forza Italia party. He announced his intention to run for the Senate in August, after a government crisis led to the dissolution of parliament and a snap election, which is scheduled for September 25.