'We gave Putin an excuse': Nigel Farage says the West provoked Russia into invading Ukraine

21 June 2024, 19:13 | Updated: 22 June 2024, 07:10

Nigel Farage said that the West had provoked Putin into invading Ukraine
Nigel Farage said that the West had provoked Putin into invading Ukraine. Picture: Alamy

By Kit Heren

Nigel Farage has claimed that Western countries provoked Russia into invading Ukraine.

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Mr Farage, who has previously come under fire for saying he admired Vladimir Putin, said that "of course" the Russian president is at fault for his country's war with Kyiv.

But the Reform UK leader maintained that the "ever-eastward expansion" of NATO and the European Union had given the Kremlin "an excuse" to move troops across the border.

Mr Farage's comments put him at odds with the leaders of other major parties, who unequivocally blame Russia for the war. Rishi Sunak said earlier this year that it was "clearly ridiculous" to attribute blame to the West for the invasion.

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."

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Nigel Farage on Friday
Nigel Farage on Friday. Picture: Alamy

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".

Putin has served continuously as either Russian president or prime minister since 1999. Western observers do not consider elections in Russia to be fair.

Mr Farage also faced questions about his party's plans to scrap the net-zero programme.

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin. Picture: Alamy

He said: "Ever since the late 1980s perhaps there's been a bit of hype around this and I think that perhaps is wrong. No wonder we've got people spraying Stonehenge with orange powder, because all we ever talk about is fear rather than solutions."

Asked about comments he made in 2021, when he called then-Prince Charles an "eco-loony", Mr Farage said: "The King, he wasn't the King then, and I can't speak ill of the monarch obviously. But he did used to say ... He did used to say that carbon dioxide was a pollutant, which I thought was a very stupid comment."

The Reform UK leader added: "Right, listen, we've deindustrialised. Our steelworks close, where do they go? India.The same steel gets produced in India under lower environmental standards and then shipped back to us.

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"Globally, by closing those steel plants, the amount of CO2 put into the air has gone up. All we've done is to export the emissions.

"Similarly with coal, there's an anthracite mine up in Cumbria that could be opened. We're not going to open it. We are overtaxing the North Sea. The Tories have done this, not Labour."

Why did Nigel Farage praise Andrew Tate?

Mr Farage came out of retirement to stand for Parliament in this election, and Reform has soared in popularity during the campaign, if the polls are to be believed.

Some polls even have Reform ahead of the Conservatives, including one released on Friday, although others are less favourable.

Mr Farage, who has run unsuccessfully for a seat in the Commons seven times, has still set his sights high, telling voters earlier this week that he wants to be Prime Minister by 2029.

Launching the party's manifesto, he said: "Our plan - and this is our first big election as a party - our plan is to establish that bridgehead in parliament and to use that voice to build a big national campaigning movement around the country over the course of the next five years for genuine change."

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