Berlusconi defends Putin’s ‘special operation’ to replace Zelensky with ‘decent people'

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The stunning comments come as Mr Berlusconi put on a show of unity on Thursday with his right-wing allies Giorgia Meloni and Matteo Salvini, promising a new era of stable government at a closing rally in Rome.

The three leaders spoke from a stage bearing the slogan “Together, for Italy” in their first joint event in a campaign that has seen them lead in polls but also quarrel over foreign and economic policy.

“We will build a solid, cohesive government with a strong popular mandate, which will remain in power for five years”, said Ms Meloni, who could become Italy’s first female premier and the most right-wing one since World War Two.

Rome-born Meloni, whose party traces its roots to post-fascism but now presents itself as a mainstream conservative force, was playing to a home crowd overwhelmingly dominated by FdI fans.

In office, Ms Meloni would face daunting challenges including the threat of recession, inflation and spiking energy costs, on top of Italy’s historically high public debt.

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