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Fact check: Former Nato chief did not say EU expansion ‘provoked’ Putin 

25 Jun 2024 3 minute read
Reform UK leader Nigel Farage .Photo Jordan Pettitt/PA Wire

Nigel Farage said the expansion of Nato and the EU “provoked” Russian president Vladimir Putin into invading Ukraine.

In a speech on June 24, the Reform UK leader addressed those comments, and claimed they were supported by the views of Lord Robertson, the former Secretary General of Nato.

Evaluation

Lord Robertson had previously said of President Putin, in an interview with the New Statesman, that: “[he’s] not bothered about Nato, or Nato enlargement”.

He also said: “The whole Ukraine crisis started with the offer of an [EU] accession agreement to Ukraine [in 2014].”

However, Lord Robertson added that the EU was “not at fault”, and has since said that Mr Farage is “parroting the Kremlin Line”.

The facts

In a speech broadcast on X, formally known as Twitter, on June 24, the Reform UK leader Nigel Farage discussed comments he had previously made in an interview with the BBC’s Panorama, in which he said that the expansion of Nato and the EU “provoked” President Putin into invading Ukraine.

During his speech, Mr Farage said: “George Robertson, the former Secretary General of Nato, said a few months ago that the EU’s accession agreement to Ukraine was a mistake that was used by Putin.”

George Robertson – Lord Robertson of Port Ellen – was Secretary General of Nato between 1999 and 2003.

In an interview with the New Statesman earlier this year, Lord Robertson dismissed the idea that Nato expansion in eastern Europe was the reason that Putin invaded Ukraine.

He said: “[Putin]’s not bothered about Nato, or Nato enlargement. He’s bothered by the European Union. The whole Ukraine crisis started with the offer of an [EU] accession agreement to Ukraine [in 2014].”

The article states that Lord Robertson added the caveat that: “the EU was not at fault because accession was what Ukraine, as a sovereign nation, wanted”.

In a BBC article published since the Panorama interview – and before Mr Farage’s speech – Lord Robertson said Mr Farage was “parroting the Kremlin Line”, and “producing new excuses for the brutal, unprovoked attack”.

He added: “Saying that we provoked Russia is like saying that if you buy a burglar alarm, in some way you provoke burglars.”

Reform UK was approached to clarify Mr Farage’s comments.

Links

BBC – Rivals attack Farage for saying West provoked Ukraine war (archived)

X: GB News – Nigel Farage: “I would never ever defend Putin.” (archived)

Claim (archived post and video)

UK Parliament: MPs and Lords – Lord Robertson of Port Ellen (archived)

The New Statesman – George Robertson: Why Russia fears the European Union (archived)

 


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Riki
Riki
19 days ago

Excuse me? Yes he did! I have seen the interview in which he said it. I think someone is clearly confusing people up. Stoltenburg or whatever his name is said it. And I kind of agree, NATO maybe “defensive” but it still allows for nations to apply for membership, even those that are next to nations that demand they don’t accept their membership due to rational fears that they can be used to house weapons. This narrative that nato is defensive is clearly being used so they can threaten Russia without actually stating it.

Rhisiart
Rhisiart
19 days ago

This is an excellent book and leaves you in no doubt who is to blame.

How the West Brought War to Ukraine: Understanding How U.S. and NATO Policies Led to Crisis, War, and the Risk of Nuclear Catastrophe, by Benjamin Abelow.

https://amzn.eu/d/09nk3HZs

Steve A Duggan
Steve A Duggan
19 days ago

Farage likes to say controversial things because he knows it’ll gain him attention. Without the BS he spouts he’d be ignored. It works, some people will agree with him no matter how wrong the statement, many do the same with Trump. If we learn to ignore him – he’ll disappear. Sadly, currently too many people listen.

cablestreet
cablestreet
19 days ago

So who exactly is responsible for Sweden and Finland joining NATO ?

Che Guevara's Fist
Che Guevara's Fist
17 days ago

Farage was all about “sovereignty” when it came to brexit yet he clearly doesn’t understand membership of NATO is exactly what sovereign nations apply for. In other words, membership of NATO is entirely consensual which sovereign countries decide for themselves and member states have to meet all conditions before they can join. Whether countries are members or not is not the business of Vlad Pukinguts. Yet he created a land dispute with Georgia and Ukraine (by invading and occupying Crimea) in order to prevent those two sovereign nations from being able to join NATO because settling land disputes with neighbouring… Read more »

Johnny Gamble
Johnny Gamble
17 days ago

George Bush Senior said after the reunification of Germany that NATO would not advance one inch further. Does Russia have it’s military on the US Border in Canada? No. Does Russia have it’s military on the US Border in Mexico? No. Does Russia have it’s military in The Republic of Ireland (which by the way has had the good sense to stay out of NATO) ? No. Does Russia Russia have it’s military at the entrance to the Channel Tunnel in France? No. The invasion of Ukraine could have easily been avoided but it was the Zelensky regime that failed… Read more »

Linda Jones
Linda Jones
17 days ago

The Berlin Wall fell because Gorbachev had agreement with the west that NATO and the EU would not expand into the old soviet countries if he agreed to the reunification of Germany following the fall of the wall. The west did not honour the agreement and did expand right up to the Russian border. The provocation and threat to Russian sovereignty is obvious. Little wonder Putin reacted, took him long enough.

Uhh
Uhh
16 days ago

You can’t invade a country, whatever the circumstance. That doesn’t change the fact that George Bush Sr’s right-hand man, James Baker, explicitly told Gorbachev this:

https://nsarchive.gwu.edu/briefing-book/russia-programs/2017-12-12/nato-expansion-what-gorbachev-heard-western-leaders-early#:~:text=Washington%20D.C.%2C%20December%2012%2C%202017,leaders%20to%20Gorbachev%20and%20other

Dirk Hustler
Dirk Hustler
15 days ago

The EU should offer Russia a route to membership.

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