Sunak, Starmer slam Farage claim that EU, NATO ‘provoked’ invasion of Ukraine

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British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour leader Keir Starmer blasted comments made by Reform UK leader Nigel Farage claiming the EU and NATO “provoked” Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by expanding eastwards.

“What he said is completely wrong and only plays into [Russian President Vladimir Putin’s] hands,” Sunak told reporters on Saturday. “This kind of appeasement is dangerous for Britain’s security, the security of our allies that rely on us and only emboldens Putin further.”

Sunak added that Putin was behind the release of nerve agents on the “streets of Britain.”

Starmer told reporters Farage’s comments were “disgraceful,” adding that Russia alone is responsible for the invasion of Ukraine.

“Anyone who is standing for parliament ought to be really clear that Russia is the aggressor, Putin bears responsibility, and that we stand with Ukraine, as we have done from the beginning of this conflict,” he said. “Parliament has spoken with one voice on this since the beginning of the conflict.”

Farage made the comments in an interview with BBC’s Panorama on Friday evening in the run-up to the July 4 U.K. general elections. On the program, Farage was challenged on a social media post he sent as Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine back in early 2022, which said the conflict “was a consequence of EU and NATO expansion.”

Asked whether he stood by those views Friday, Farage said he had been warning for decades about the increasing scope of both the military alliance and the EU.

“We have provoked this war,” Farage said. “Of course, it’s his [Putin’s] fault. He’s used what we’ve done.”

His comments have sparked a wave of criticism aside from Sunak and Starmer, including from Labour defense spokesman John Healey, who said the comments “reveal the true face of Nigel Farage: a Putin apologist who should never be trusted with our nation’s security.”

Former Conservative Defense Secretary Ben Wallace likened him to a “pub bore we’ve all met at the end of the bar,” in an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today program.

“I am one of the few figures that have been consistent & honest about the war with Russia,” said Farage on social media network X Friday evening. “Putin was wrong to invade a sovereign nation, and the EU was wrong to expand eastward. The sooner we realize this, the closer we will be to ending the war and delivering peace.”