Nigel Farage, leader of Reform UK, criticized for saying West had provoked Putin to invade Ukraine

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LONDON (AP) — Nigel FarageThe leader of Reform UK, the newly formed right-wing party that aims to drive voters away from Britain’s ruling Conservatives in the July 4 general election, has come under widespread criticism for his claim that the West provoked the Russian president. Vladimir Putin invade Ukraine.

In a BBC television interview broadcast on Friday evening, Farage drew a link between NATO and the European Union’s eastward expansion in recent decades and the invasion.

Farage claimed that in 2014, when he was a member of the European Parliament, he warned of a possible war in Ukraine, saying “we have provoked this war.” It is unclear whether his warning came before or after Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in February 2014.

“It was clear to me that the increasingly eastward expansion of NATO and the European Union gave this man a reason for his Russian people to say, ‘They’re coming for us again’ and go to war,” Farage said. “It’s, you know, of course it’s his fault – he used what we did as an excuse.”

Farage’s critics from across the political spectrum rejected his statement, with many describing him as a Putin apologist.

“I think Nigel Farage is a bit like that pub owner we’ve all met at the end of the bar, who often says, ‘I ran the country’ and gives very simplistic answers to basically, I’m afraid it’s in the 21st century is complex. problems,” Ben Wallace, the former Conservative defense secretary who has stepped down as an MP, told BBC radio.

Many Conservatives have largely refrained from criticizing Farage, who, although not a lawmaker in the British parliament, had enormous influence on Britain’s vote to leave the EU in 2016. The concern among many Conservatives is that attacking him too much will further alienate many Conservatives. voters, who sympathize with his tough rhetoric on issues such as immigration and Brexit.

This is the first general election to reshape Britain is in contention and has enjoyed a surge in the polls after Farage said in early June he would lead the party and contest the seat of Clacton in southeast England. He is currently favorite to win that seat and finally enter Parliament after seven attempts.

Meanwhile, John Healey, who will become defense secretary if the left-wing Labor party wins the July election, said Farage would “rather lick Vladimir Putin’s boots than stand up for the people of Ukraine.”

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