Italy's Berlusconi says he wouldn't seek meeting with Zelenskiy if PM
ROME, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi would not seek a meeting with Volodymir Zelenskiy if he were still head of government, because he blames the Ukrainian President for the war with Russia, he said on Sunday.
Berlusconi, 86, often boasted of his friendship with Russian President Vladimir Putin until Russia's invasion of Ukraine and created a storm last September when he said Putin had been pushed into the war and wanted to put "decent people" in charge of Kyiv.
Berlusconi, leader of the conservative Forza Italia party that is part of the country's ruling coalition, was speaking after Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni on Friday accused France of jeopardising EU unity on Ukraine by organising a Franco-German dinner in Paris with Zelenskiy that excluded other European allies.
"I would never have gone talking to Zelenskiy because we are witnessing the devastation of his country and the slaughter of its soldiers and civilians," Berlusconi told journalist after voting at a polling station for a regional election in Lombardy.
Berlusconi said that if Zelenskiy had stopped attacking the two separatist republics of the Donbass the war would not have happened. "So I judge, very, very negatively, the behaviour of this gentleman", Berlusconi added.
Meloni's office said the Italian government's support for Ukraine is "firm and convinced, as clearly stated in the programme and as confirmed in all the parliamentary votes of the majority supporting the executive".
Berlusconi also urged the United States to put pressure on Zelenskiy and threaten to stop sending arms to Ukraine, while also promising a massive aid programme if it agreed to an immediate ceasefire.
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."
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.