Putin sent him "20 bottles of vodka and a very kind letter" for his birthday, the ex-Italian prime minister continued. He "replied with Lambrusco bottles and an equally lovely letter".
The episode could become an embarrassment for Berlusconi's coalition partner, led by suspected future prime minister Giorgia Meloni. The leader of the ultra-right Fratelli d'Italia (FDI) supports Ukraine and EU sanctions against Russia. But both Berlusconi and the third coalition partner, Matteo Salvini from the right-wing national Lega, have close ties to Moscow. In the recording that has now been published, Berlusconi also expressed his doubts about arms deliveries to Ukraine.