Nigel Farage has admitted he was “wrong” about Vladimir Putin after he launched a full-scale attack on Ukraine.
A wide-ranging assault was carried out this morning, hitting cities and bases with airstrikes or shelling, as civilians piled into trains and cars to flee.
Ukraine’s government said Russian tanks and troops rolled across the border in what it called a “full-scale war” that could rewrite the geopolitical order and whose fallout has already reverberated around the globe.
In announcing a major military operation, Putin deflected global condemnation and cascading new sanctions – and chillingly referred to his country’s nuclear arsenal as he threatened any foreign country attempting to interfere with “consequences you have never seen”.
Nato’s chief said the “brutal act of war” shattered peace on the European continent, as the US-led alliance mobilised more troops to move towards eastern Europe.
Wading into the issue last week, former UKIP leader Nigel Farage called for Putin’s demands to be met – rather than allow NATO to expand even further east.
He said: “I thought for 30 years that the NATO policy, the EU policy of expanding ever eastwards was a huge strategic error.
“And if Vladimir Putin’s one demand is that we state clearly that Ukraine is not going to join NATO, why don’t we do it?
“Well, some of you may say, isn’t that appeasement, isn’t that giving in? But ask yourself a different question. What possible strategic benefit or asset could it be to us for Ukraine to join Nato? Absolutely none whatsoever that I can see.”
In 2014, Farage named Putin as the world leader he most admires after praising the Russian president’s handling of the crisis in Syria.
He was questioned for GQ by Labour’s former director of communications Alistair Campbell, who put the question to him.
“As an operator, but not as a human being, I would say [I admire] Putin [the most].
“The way he played the whole Syria thing. Brilliant. Not that I approve of him politically. How many journalists in jail now?”
Today he admitted he was wrong about the Russian president, who had gone “much further than I thought he would.”