'Absolutely not': Finland's president dismisses Nigel Farage’s claim that Nato provoked Russia's war in Ukraine

24 June 2024, 19:37 | Updated: 24 June 2024, 19:48

Finland's President responds to Nigel Farage's comments

By Jenny Medlicott

The President of Finland has dismissed Nigel Farage’s claim that Nato provoked Russia’s war in Ukraine.

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Alexander Stubb told LBC he 'absolutely does not' agree with comments made by the Reform UK leader on the Russian war in Ukraine. 

Last week, Mr Farage said he was not an "apologist" for Russian president Vladmir Putin but "what I have been saying for the past 10 years is that the West has played into Putin's hands, giving him the excuse to do what he wanted to do anyway".

Speaking to LBC’s Tonight with Andrew Marr, Mr Stubb was asked his view on Mr Farage’s claim that the West had ‘poked the Russian bear’.

Mr Stubb responded: “Well, absolutely not. And with all due respect to Mr Nigel Farage, I don’t agree with many things that he usually says. Including actually, Brexit. 

“Be that as it may, what Russia has done is unprovoked, [they] tried to deny the existence, the territorial integrity and sovereignty and the independence, the identity and the language of a country called Ukraine. 

“There's nothing that has provoked it. It was Russian imperialism that drove it.”

Asked whether a surge in right-wing politicians who have expressed scepticism towards Ukraine is a danger to the West, Mr Stubb said: “I think surge is a strong word to use there. We're still talking about a noisy minority. 

“I’ve never seen Europe, including the United Kingdom with the European Union as unified, as we have been, in this two and a half year almost period of time. And I think this unity will continue. 

Read more: Farage warns of Channel migrant 'invasion' from countries 'with terrorism, gang culture and war zones'

Read more: Boris Johnson blasts Nigel Farage for spreading 'Kremlin propaganda' over Russian invasion of Ukraine

Nigel Farage claimed that the West had ‘poked the Russian bear’.
Nigel Farage claimed that the West had ‘poked the Russian bear’. Picture: Alamy

“Of course, there is an element of war fatigue, which I understand from some elements, but to say that there's dis-unity in our aim to maintain an independent and free Ukraine, I'd say that's a false assumption.” 

Speaking in a Panorama interview on Friday evening, Mr Farage said: "I stood up in the European Parliament in 2014 and I said, and I quote, ‘there will be a war in Ukraine.’

"Why did I say that? It was obvious to me that the ever-eastward expansion of NATO and the European Union was giving this man a reason to his Russian people to say, ‘They’re coming for us again,’ and to go to war."

Mr Farage added: "We provoked this war. It’s – you know, of course it’s [Putin's] fault, he’s used what we’ve done as an excuse."

Pushed on comments he made in 2014, when he said that Putin was the leader he admired most, Mr Farage said: "I said I disliked him as a person, but admired him as a political operator because he's managed to take control of running Russia".

Mr Farage has faced backlash over his comments, including from former Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday who accused the Reform UK leader of “spreading "Kremlin propaganda”.

Elsewhere, Mr Stubb discussed National Service in Finland, as he described the military service as a “societal glue” in the country, adding that it’s “been very useful as a deterrent”.

Earlier this month, the Conservative Party unveiled its manifesto pledge to roll out National Service for 18-year-olds if re-elected.

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