Maja Smiejkowska/Reuters via CNN Newsource Nigel Farage IMAGEMaja Smiejkowska/Reuters via CNN Newsource Nigel Farage IMAGE

Nigel Farage, a figurehead of the UK’s populist right, has sparked outrage from political opponents after saying the West “provoked” Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Farage – who heads the fast-growing Reform UK political party and was a pivotal figure in in Brexit – is seeking to win a seat in parliament for the first time in next month’s general election.

During an interview with the BBC Friday, Farage was asked if he stood by a tweet posted in February 2022 which called Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine a “consequence of EU and NATO expansion.”

“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 [Putin] a reason to his Russian people to say they’re coming for us again, and to go to war,” he told the BBC’s Nick Robinson.

“We’ve provoked this war – of course it’s his fault – he’s used what we’ve done as an excuse,” he said.

Farage – a former EU parliamentarian – claimed to be “the only person in British politics” to predict the invasion of Ukraine.

 

Following his BBC appearance, Farage took to X and clarified his comments. “I am one of the few figures that have been consistent & honest about the war with Russia,” he wrote. “Putin was wrong to invade a sovereign nation, and the EU was wrong to expand eastward.”

 

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak reacted to the comments today while speaking to journalists. “What he said was completely wrong and only plays into Putin’s hands,” said Sunak. “This kind of appeasement is dangerous for Britain’s security.”

Former Conservative defence secretary Ben Wallace spoke to the BBC’s Today program about Farage’s comments, where he called the Reform leader “a bit like that pub bore we have all met at the end of the bar who often says ‘Oh no, if I was running the country’ and presents very simplistic answers to actually, I am afraid in the 21st century, complex problems.”

Labour leader Keir Starmer also responded to Farage’s comments, calling them “disgraceful” in an interview with Sky News.

“I think anybody who wants to stand to be a representative in our parliament should be really clear that whether it’s Russian aggression on the battlefield, or online, that we stand against that aggression. That’s standing behind Ukraine but also standing up for our freedom,” he said.

“These are disgraceful comments, which reveal the true face of Nigel Farage: a Putin apologist who should never be trusted with our nation’s security,” wrote John Healey, a Labour MP and shadow Defence Secretary.

He added that Farage has “shown that he would rather lick Vladimir Putin’s boot than stand up for the people of Ukraine.”For more CNN news and newsletters create an account at CNN.com

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