Nigel Farage was yesterday condemned by a former Nato boss for 'cuddling up to the Kremlin'.

George Robertson hit back at the Reform UK leader after he claimed that the ex-Nato chief backed his comments that the West was to blame for provoking Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Farage claimed during a rally in Maidstone, Kent, that the Labour peer was one of several high-profile people who agreed with him. But Lord Robertson, who headed Nato from 1999 to 2003, accused Mr Farage of talking 'total nonsense'.

It came as an exclusive poll shared with the Daily Mail found that Mr Farage has placed his party on the wrong side of the debate among voters who backed the Tories in 2019.

The More In Common survey found that fewer than one in five (19 per cent) trusted Reform more than the Conservatives on the issue of the war in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, more than half (53 per cent) trusted the Conservatives more. An earlier poll found that the public think it's important that Ukraine wins the war by a margin of 74 per cent to 9 per cent.

Mr Farage again doubled down on his claim that the West was to blame for provoking the Russian invasion, telling a crowd of hundreds that 'we gave him (Vladimir Putin)... a reason for doing so'.

He claimed that Lord Robertson 'said a few months ago that the European Union's accession agreement to Ukraine was a mistake that was used by Putin'. But speaking to LBC, the Labour peer said this was 'simply dishonest'.

Asked if he believed the West provoked Russia into invading Ukraine by allowing more eastern European countries to join the EU and Nato, he said: 'That is total nonsense, and sort of typical of the far Right, of which Farage is part, cuddling up to the Kremlin with their propaganda.

'The EU and Nato enlarged because individual countries wanted to join. Each one of them took a decision…

'Now of course, having a democratic country next door to Russia, is not going to be happy for Vladimir Putin, given the dictatorial style that he's got. But that isn't any reason why he should invade and try to destroy that neighbouring country.

'After all, Bosnia, Albania, North Macedonia, are all applying for membership of the European Union. They want to be in the European Union.

'Does that mean to say that we're provoking Russia into invading them as well? The logic is completely nonsensical.'

He was quizzed about an interview he gave to The New Statesman magazine last month in which he said 'the whole Ukraine crisis started off with the offer of an EU accession agreement [to later become a full member] to Ukraine in 2014'.

Mr Farage appeared to be citing the interview as proof that Lord Robertson agreed with his position.

But the peer denied this, saying: 'The government of Ukraine at that time wanted an association agreement, but were told by the Kremlin that they had to reject it. So it was a decision at that point by Ukraine… it wasn't the European Union foisting itself on Ukraine.

'It was responding to the desire by the Ukrainians to be inside the European Union. So to claim that I'm supporting Nigel Farage at this point is simply dishonest.'

He went on to say that Mr Farage's call for Ukraine to start peace talks with the Kremlin was 'going down the road of appeasement – so I certainly don't agree with that'.

This is because negotiations would likely lead to a partitioning, with Russia potentially holding on to the territory it has gained in eastern Ukraine, including the Crimean peninsula. Lord Robertson added: 'He's simply parroting the Kremlin line, which is that somehow, you know, he (Putin) was being encroached on by an ever-expanding Nato and European Union, when in fact it's countries themselves who make the decision and there's no provocation intended.

'You know, one of my successors at Nato crisply summed it up – if Russia stops fighting, there will be peace. If Ukraine stops fighting, there will be no Ukraine. That sums it up and I think Nigel Farage should listen to that.'

It comes after former Prime Minister Boris Johnson waded into the row by accusing Mr Farage of being 'morally repugnant' for 'parroting Putin's lies' about Ukraine.

And yesterday Rishi Sunak said of Mr Farage's comments that 'appeasement is dangerous to Britain's security' and that his words will 'only embolden Putin'.

The More In Common poll also found that, while Reform is more trusted on immigration and small boat Channel crossings, the Tories are more trusted on most other issues by 2019 Conservative voters, including the NHS and cost of living.

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2024-06-25T00:00:49Z dg43tfdfdgfd