There is an opportunity in the recent Italian-national loss that is (probably) tempting Putin: to surprise the world.
The value of human "friendship" may be laughable for some in the face of the brutality of a war which, whether or not provoked by others, sees the Russian leader as ultimately responsible, if not at home then certainly in the West.
In a person's life, however, it is often the small gestures that define their miserability or greatness.
So the question we ask is: Will Putin have the audacity to be present at the last farewell ceremony for longtime friend Silvio Berlusconi? We recall that the relationship between the former Italian prime minister and the Russian leader is certainly not comparable to that between him (Berlusconi) and Gaddafi (although the abandonment of 2011 has in fact marked Berlusconi politically in the years following the assassination of the Libyan Rais...).
Someone will object that defying a country like ours would be suicidal for a person wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity and the argument according to which China, Russia and the United States do not recognize the aforementioned would be of little value.
In fact, it is difficult to think that this could make Italy give up, whose position is very clear both in the international political context of condemnation of the Russian aggressor, and in the legal one, having adhered to the Statute of the Court of The Hague, from execute the arrest warrant issued by Costei against the Russian leader.
Of course, if this were to happen, there could be potentially "nuclear" consequences, which would be devastating for everyone.
On the other hand, there is the precedent of the former president of Sudan Omar Al Bashir*: although the ICC had issued an arrest warrant when he was president of Sudan, the aforementioned he traveled abroad with impunity, even participating in an international conference where the secretary general of the United Nations of the time was present!
Would the appearance of the Russian presidential plane on the radar lead to a denial of landing permission? The ban would be easily overcome in many ways for any pilot and at that precise moment a political confrontation would be triggered that would hardly be appreciated in Italy.
On the other hand, with nuclear warheads perhaps already planned for Milan or Rome (but also thousands of soldiers in too many high-risk missions), the Italian government - however rhetorically bold - would be foolish enough to challenge Russia for a "private" matter like a funeral?
On the other hand, it could still be argued that Putin himself could let reasons of state prevail over attending the funeral of a trusted friend who has never turned his back on him. In fact, without prejudice to the above, it could also be imprudent for the number one in the Kremlin to leave his country with the risk, in addition to being arrested, also of suffering an internal coup by some Russian dissident or oligarch, perhaps tired of the war. Hypothesis, the latter, which would also eliminate the possible nuclear retaliation mentioned above.
The day of 14 June 2023 will represent a date in which Putin will, in any case, play a lot: Will he have the firmness to venture to participate in the funeral of his friend who, although a convinced Atlanticist, has not renounced their bond, or, for reasons of opportunity and state, will he renounce preferring a forced distance participation?
And Italy, if the first hypothesis were to occur, what would Italy decide to do?
Andrea Cucco, lawyer Marco Valerio Verni
* Al Bashir was deposed and is now on trial in Sudan, albeit for corruption and not for the crimes charged by the ICC.