Nigel Farage claims West 'provoked' Russian invasion of Ukraine in BBC Panorama grilling

Nigel Farage has claimed the West "provoked" the Russian invasion of Ukraine as he was challenged during a 30-minute interrogation.

The comments from the Reform leader came as he was also grilled over his previous praise of the Russian President Valdimir Putin. Appearing on BBC Panorama, Mr Farage was asked whether he stood by a post on X that the Russian leader's invasion in 2022 was a "consequence of EU and NATO expansion".

He replied: "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 went on: "We provoked this war. It’s – you know, of course it’s his [Putin's] fault, he’s used what we’ve done as an excuse."

The Reform UK leader was also quizzed over his judgement over his comments to an interview with GQ magazine back in 2014. Mr Farage was asked at the time which of the then-world leaders he most admired. He replied: "As an operator, but not as a human being, I would say Putin.

He added: "The way he played the whole Syria thing. Brilliant. Not that I approve of him politically. How many journalists in jail now?". When the comment was put to him on Friday by presenter Nick Robinson, Mr Farage replied: "Hang on a second, I said I disliked him".

nigel farage claims west 'provoked' russian invasion of ukraine in bbc panorama grilling

Nigel Farage was grilled over his comments on Putin on BBC Panorama

Pressed again, he said: "I admired him as a political operator because he’s managed to take control of running Russia." He later added: "This is nonsense, you know, you can pick any figure, current or historical, and say, you know, did they have good aspects? And if you said, well, they were very talented in one area, then suddenly you’re the biggest supporter."

Naomi Smith, the CEO of Best for Britain campaign group, responded to the interview, saying: “Britain is united against Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine and there is no place in our Parliament for those who make excuses for aggressive war. People must vote tactically to keep Britain united and keep those who seek to divide us away from power."

Mr Farage, who has unsuccessfully stood for Parliament seven times, announced a fortnight ago he was returning to lead Reform and stand as a candidate in Clacton.

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