Boris Johnson accuses Farage of ‘Kremlin propaganda’

Boris Johnson has criticised Farage for his comments about the war in Ukraine
Boris Johnson has criticised Farage for his comments about the war in Ukraine - Alberto Pezzali/AP

Boris Johnson has accused Nigel Farage of spreading “Kremlin propaganda” over his comments about the war in Ukraine.

Mr Farage sparked a backlash last week after he argued the “ever-eastward expansion of Nato and the EU” had given Vladimir Putin a reason to justify his invasion.

The Reform UK leader doubled down on his comments in an article for The Sunday Telegraph, in which he condemned Putin’s actions as “immoral, outrageous and indefensible” but insisted he had been “consistently right and honest” about the conflict.

He added: “If you poke the Russian bear with a stick, don’t be surprised if he responds.’”

Nigel Farage suggested the West provoked Russia's invasion of Ukraine in a BBC interview with Nick Robinson
Nigel Farage suggested the West provoked Russia's invasion of Ukraine in a BBC interview with Nick Robinson - JEFF OVERS/BBC

Responding to the article on X, Mr Johnson said: “This is nauseating ahistorical drivel and more Kremlin propaganda. Nobody provoked Putin. Nobody ‘poked the bear with a stick’.

“The people of Ukraine voted overwhelmingly in 1991 to be a sovereign and independent country. They were perfectly entitled to seek both Nato and EU membership.

“There is only one person responsible for Russian aggression against Ukraine – both in 2014 and 2022 – and that is Putin. To try to spread the blame is morally repugnant and parroting Putin’s lies.”

Mr Johnson, who was prime minister when Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine took place in February 2022, said Volodymyr Zelensky’s country “can and will” defeat Russia and that it would be “bizarre” to weaken Western support.

He added: “The problem in the last 30 years has not been Western provocation but Western weakness in the face of Russian aggression - a weakness exemplified by this article.”

Responding to Mr Johnson’s criticisms, Mr Farage told The Telegraph: “I predicted what happened in Ukraine, and I alone predicted what happened in Ukraine. I regret to say that I was right.

“But guess what, in 2016 Boris Johnson said the EU caused the war in Ukraine by expanding. So what kind of hypocrite is this man? It sums up the Conservative Party – no principle, no real policy, just short-term changing of views with the wind.

“I have been utterly consistent, I’ve never changed my view, I’ve been the only British figure that had foreign policy right. These people are just not fit to govern.”

Mr Johnson drew criticism during the Brexit referendum in 2016 by dismissing the European Union as a “force for instability” and claiming its defence policy was directly linked to Russian actions in Crimea.

“If you want an example of EU policy-making on the hoof and EU pretensions to running defence policy that have caused real trouble, then look at what has happened in the Ukraine,” he said.

“All the EU can do in this question, in my view, is cause confusion.”

Commenting further on X on Monday morning, the Reform leader said: “Boris, you are a liar and a hypocrite. I am glad you are no longer prime minister of this country.”

‘Pub bore’

Ben Wallace, who was Mr Johnson’s defence secretary, last weekend branded Mr Farage as a “pub bore” over his claims about the conflict.

Richard Holden, the Conservative Party chairman, posted a photograph of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan alongside a screenshot of Mr Farage appearing on Russia Today in 2018.

“Conservatives have always been on the side of the people who told the USSR to tear down the Berlin Wall.

“Others side [with] the KGB officers who worked for the Soviet dictatorship. Your vote is precious, use it wisely.”

The Reform leader was last week speaking in a BBC Panorama interview with Nick Robinson with his view echoing arguments that have also been made by Donald Trump, the former US president and one of Mr Farage’s friends.

The comments also came as a significant departure from those given by other British political leaders on the conflict, with Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer siding overwhelmingly with Nato and Ukraine.

The Labour leader condemned Mr Farage at the weekend, while the Prime Minister said in Scotland on Monday morning: “You all heard what Nigel Farage said about Ukraine.

“That plays into Putin’s hands. That kind of appeasement is dangerous for Britain’s security, the security of our allies that rely on us and will only embolden Putin.”

Reform has surged to second place and overtaken the Tories in a number of opinion polls conducted since Mr Farage’s surprise return to frontline politics earlier this month.

As well as coming back to lead the insurgent Right-of-centre party, replacing Richard Tice, he is also standing as a candidate in the Essex constituency of Clacton.

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