Farage ‘playing into hands of Putin’ with Ukraine war remarks, says Sunak

UK

Rishi Sunak has said Nigel Farage’s comments about the West provoking Vladimir Putin were “completely wrong” and play into the Russian dictator’s hands.

The Reform UK leader is facing a backlash from across the political spectrum for saying that the expansion of NATO and the EU “provoked” Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

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Mr Sunak told reporters: “What he said was completely wrong and only plays into Putin’s hands.

“This is a man who deployed nerve agents on the streets of Britain, is doing deals with countries like North Korea

“And this kind of appeasement is dangerous for Britain’s security, the security of our allies that rely on us and only emboldens Putin further.”

In an interview with BBC Panorama last night, Mr Farage said he had been warning since the fall of the Berlin Wall that there would be a war in Ukraine due to the “ever-eastward expansion of NATO and the European Union”.

He said this was giving Mr Putin a reason to tell the Russian people “they’re coming for us again” and go to war.

The Reform leader confirmed his belief the West “provoked” the conflict – but said it was “of course” the Russian president’s “fault”.

Asked about comments he made in 2014 stating that Mr Putin was the statesman he most admired, Mr Farage said he disliked the Russian leader – but “I admired him as a political operator because he’s managed to take control” of running the country.

Mr Sunak is the latest Conservative figure to condemn the comments.

Earlier, Home Secretary James Cleverly said Mr Farage was “echoing Putin’s vile justification for the brutal invasion of Ukraine”.

And former Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “I think Nigel Farage is a bit like that pub bore we have all met at the end of the bar who often says if ‘I was running the country’ and presents very simplistic answers to actually I am afraid in the 21st century complex problems.”

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