Silvio Berlusconi says Vladimir Putin sent him vodka and ‘sweet letter’

Silvio Berlusconi Says Vladimir Putin Sent Him Vodka And ‘Sweet Letter’
The former Italian premier has been recorded as saying he had reconnected with the Russian leader. Photo: PA Images
Share this article

AP Reporters

Former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi, who has a longtime friendship with Vladimir Putin, has been caught on audiotape boasting that he had recently reconnected with the Russian president and exchanged gifts of vodka, wine and “sweet” letters.

Italy’s LaPresse news agency published what it said were comments by Mr Berlusconi (86) to his centre-right Forza Italia politicians during a meeting this week in the lower Chamber of Deputies.


“I have reconnected with President Putin,” Mr Berlusconi was heard saying.

“He sent me 20 bottles of vodka and a really sweet letter. I responded with 20 bottles of Lambrusco (a sparkling red wine) and a similarly sweet letter.”

The occasion was Mr Berlusconi’s 86th birthday on September 29th, LaPresse said, four days after the right won the most votes in Italy’s national election.

Silvio Berlusconi
Mr Berlusconi (left) talks to Brothers of Italy Senator Ignazio La Russa during the voting session to elect the new Italian senate President in Rome (AP)

The comments made front-page news as Italy’s conservative coalition headed by Giorgia Meloni, who has strongly backed Ukraine in Russia’s war, is divvying Cabinet posts ahead of formal consultations this week to form a new government.

Forza Italia, the junior member of the coalition, is gunning for the foreign ministry, among other ministries.

In the audiotape, Mr Berlusconi again seemed to defend Moscow’s position in the war, relaying to his legislators that Russian officials have repeatedly said the West is at war with Russia “because we’re giving Ukraine weapons and financing”.


It is not the first time Mr Berlusconi has seemingly defended Mr Putin. Late in the campaign, he seemed to justify Russia’s invasion by saying Mr Putin was forced into it by pro-Moscow separatists in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.

“The troops were supposed to enter, reach Kyiv within a week, replace Zelenskiy’s government with decent people and then leave,” Mr Berlusconi told his favourite late-night talk show host on September 22nd.

Later he backtracked, saying his words had been “oversimplified”.

Silvio Berlusconi and Giorgia Meloni
Silvio Berlusconi, and Brothers of Italy’s Giorgia Meloni (AP)

Mr Berlusconi’s office similarly tried to deny his audiotape comments about the birthday vodka.

In a statement on Tuesday, his office insisted that he hadn’t restarted relations with Mr Putin and that Mr Berlusconi “told an old story to lawmakers about an episode that occurred years ago”.

Mr Berlusconi has a long, friendly history with Mr Putin, having entertained the Russian leader at his Sardinian villa and even visited Crimea with Putin in 2014 after the Russian leader annexed the peninsula from Ukraine.


The latest comments are likely to complicate relations with Ms Meloni, who is expected to be tapped to become Italy’s next premier.

Ms Meloni’s far-right credentials and past eurosceptic views have raised eyebrows in some European capitals, but she has staunchly supported Nato and Ukraine in the war.

Already relations between the two soured over Mr Berlusconi’s insistence on placing a loyalist in her cabinet and over Forza Italia’s refusal to vote for her candidate for senate president.

Read More

Message submitting... Thank you for waiting.

Want us to email you top stories each lunch time?

Download our Apps
© 2024, developed by Square1 and powered by