Live updates

Nigel Farage on Putin: I don't like the man

Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage have clashed over British foreign policy regarding Ukraine, Russia and Syria.

1tukdepm_normal

Farage turns Putin problem into UK not getting involved in foreign adventures. #europedebate

Mr Farage also attempted to clarify comments he made about Russian president Vladimir Putin, saying he admired him "as an operator" but not as a man.

Nigel Farage admires 'Putin as a leader'

Advertisement

Farage: Syria rebels 'more than likely' behind gas attacks

In an interview with BBC News, Ukip leader Nigel Farage said it was "more than likely" that it was Syrian rebels, not pro-Assad forces, responsible for chemical attacks in the country.

Asked about comments he made recently in support of Russian president Vladimir Putin, Mr Farage said:

We were about to go to war in Syria because poison gas - sarin gas - had been used, and everybody in London and Washington and Brussels assumed it had been used by Assad.

And Putin said, 'Hang on a second, don't be so sure.'

It turns out it's more than likely it was the rebels that used the gas.

If Putin hadn't intervened, we would now be at war in Syria.

United Nations human rights investigators said that evidence suggested that those responsible for March 2013 attacks in Damascus "likely had access to the chemicals weapons stockpile of the Syrian military."

Clegg: Farage views on Putin 'utterly grotesque'

Nick Clegg has described Nigel Farage's comments on his admiration for Vladimir Putin's leadership skills as "utterly grotesque".

Ukip leader Farage told GQ magazine the Russian president approach's to the Syria crisis had been "brilliant", but Clegg said the comments showed how "extreme his views have become".

Nigel Farage and Nick Clegg take part in a debate on the European Union. Credit: Ian West/PA Wire

The Deputy Prime Minister said: "I just think it is utterly grotesque that Nigel Farage apparently admires someone, Vladimir Putin, who has been the chief sponsor and protector of one of the most brutal dictators on the face of the planet, President Assad.

"I just think if your hatred of all things to do with the European Union leads to such a morally perverse conclusion - that you admire the one leader in the world who could have reined in President Assad - it really shows quite how extreme his views have become."

Read: Nigel Farage admires 'Putin as a leader'

Nigel Farage admires 'Putin as a leader'

Ukip Leader Nigel Farage delivers a speech on stage at the Ukip Spring Conference 2014. Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage has named Vladimir Putin as the world leader he most admires, praising the Russian president's handling of the crisis in Syria.

Farage's comments emerged just days after the Ukip leader said the European Union had "blood on its hands" for encouraging rebellion in Ukraine, Syria and Libya. He said EU leaders had been "weak and vain", adding: "If you poke the Russian bear with a stick he will respond".

The Ukip leader was quizzed for GQ magazine by Labour's former director of communications Alistair Campbell, in his first interview in his new role as the glossy monthly's "arch-interrogator".

Asked which current world leader he most admired, Mr Farage replied: "As an operator, but not as a human being, I would say Putin.

The way he played the whole Syria thing. Brilliant. Not that I approve of him politically. How many journalists in jail now?"

Putin has been blamed by the West for prolonging the Syrian conflict by supplying arms to dictator Bashar Assad and blocking moves to censure or sanction him at the UN, but was widely seen to have outwitted Obama last year when he brokered a deal under which Assad agreed to give up chemical weapons.

'Putin wants Finland' says former Russian adviser

A former adviser to Vladimir Putin has told the Independent that the Russian president will not stop trying to expand Russia until he has “conquered” Belarus, the Baltic states and Finland.

Russian President Vladimir Putin could want Finland says Russian aide. Credit: REUTERS/Alexei Nikolskyi

Andrej Illarionov, the President’s chief economic adviser from 2000 to 2005 warned that Russia will argue that the granting of independence to Finland in 1917 was an act of “treason against national interests”.

Advertisement

EU targets Putin's inner circle with sanctions for dozen

Russian deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin is among a dozen hit with a travel ban and the freezing of assets. Credit: ReutersAleksey Nikolskyi/RIA Novosti

The European Union has imposed sanctions on 12 people in response to Russia's annexation of Crimea, including deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin and two aides to President Vladimir Putin.

The aides, Vladislav Surkov and Sergey Glazyev, form part of an extended list to the one drawn up earlier this month.

The list prevents those included from travelling to the EU, while freezing any assets they hold within the EU.

Putin's chief of staff among those hit by US sanctions

President Barack Obama has expanded America's sanctions against Russian individuals over Moscow's actions in Ukraine, targeting Vladimir Putin's chief of staff and 19 other individuals.

The sanctions hit close advisers to the Russian President, including Sergei Ivanov, his chief of staff, Arkady Rotenberg and Gennady Timchenko, both lifelong friends whose companies have amassed billions of dollars in government contracts.

Bank Rossiya, a private bank that is owned by Yuri Kovalchuk, who is considered to be Putin's banker, has also been hit with sanctions.

Read: John McCain among Americans banned from Russia

Ban Ki-moon 'deeply concerned' by Crimea situation

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that he was "deeply concerned" by the situation involving Ukraine and Russia at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Ban is on a visit to both nations to encourage all parties involved in the crisis over Ukraine and its Crimea region, which Western nations say Russia has illegally annexed, to find a peaceful solution.

Putin tells Red Square rally 'Crimea has returned home'

Russia's President Vladimir Putin addresses the audience during a rally.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin addresses the audience during a rally with 'Crimea is in my heart' in the background'. Credit: REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Crimea "has returned home" and he addressed crowds in Moscow's Red Square.

The crowds gathered at Moscow's Red Square.
The crowds gathered at Moscow's Red Square. Credit: RTV

Putin was speaking after he and two Crimean leaders signed a bill to absorb the Ukraine peninsula into Russia.

Load more updates

Advertisement

Today's top stories