MoD issue ‘myth-busting’ Nato video after Farage comments on Ukraine invasion

The Ministry of Defence has published a myth-busting video denouncing the idea that Nato is “encircling” Russia, just a day after Nigel Farage doubled down on his claims that the West had “provoked” Vladimir Putin into invading Ukraine.

In a 31-second clip posted on X, formerly Twitter, the MoD’s video presented the idea that “Nato is encircling Russia” as a myth, before writing that Russia is the largest country in the world and that “it is hard to encircle a country with 11 time zones.”

“Only 11 per cent of Russia’s land border is shared with Nato countries,” a message in the video showed.

Mr Farage, the Reform UK leader, has come under fire from figures across the political spectrum for his comments about the culpability of the West for Putin’s war.

His remarks were aired in an interview he did with BBC Panorama on Friday and reinforced by a comment piece he wrote on Saturday backing his claims. Mr Farage also stated the view immediately after the start of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Though he did not use the word “encircle” during either the interview or the comment piece, Mr Farage did claim several times that the “ever-eastward expansion of Nato” had been used as an “excuse” by Putin to launch the largest land war in Europe since the Second World War.

“It was obvious to me that the ever-eastward expansion of Nato and the European Union was giving this man a reason to his Russian people to say, ‘they’re coming for us again’ and to go to war,” he said during the interview aired on Friday.

A day later, he wrote in The Telegraph: “What I have been saying for the past 10 years is that the West has played into Putin’s hands, giving him the excuse to do what he wanted to do anyway.”

He did not offer an alternative solution to the way the last decade has been handled, prompting former UK defence minister Ben Wallace to describe Mr Farage as a “pub bore” who has no grasp of the complexity of “finding international solutions to problems”.

While Moscow quickly endorsed Mr Farage’s comments, politicians in Westminster slammed the Reform UK leader as a “mouthpiece” for Putin.

UK prime minister Rishi Sunak, speaking after Mr Farage’s BBC interview, said the Reform UK leader was “completely wrong” and “playing into Putin’s hands”.

Former prime minister Boris Johnson accused Mr Farage of a “morally repugnant” repetition of Putin’s justification for the invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Johnson, who has championed the UK’s support of Ukraine, accused the Reform UK leader of spreading “Kremlin propaganda”.

“Nobody provoked Putin. Nobody ‘poked the bear with a stick’,” Mr Johnson said. “The people of Ukraine voted overwhelmingly in 1991 to be a sovereign and independent country.

“They were perfectly entitled to seek both Nato and EU membership. There is only one person responsible for Russian aggression against Ukraine – both in 2014 and 2022 – and that is Putin. To try to spread the blame is morally repugnant and parroting Putin’s lies.”

Mr Farage, a well-known supporter of former US president Donald Trump, who himself is publicly sceptical of Nato, did not mention that the bloc can only accept nations that request to join, as opposed to expanding into countries that have not requested membership.

Mr Farage also did not say that both Sweden and Finland, Nato’s latest two members, decided to join only after Putin ordered the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Finnish ex-Prime Minister Alexander Stubb said joining the alliance was a “done deal” for his country only as soon as Russian troops invaded Ukraine. Their membership more than doubled the Russian border with Nato.

For Sweden, their decision to join ended more than two centuries of neutrality, such was the threat posed to them by Russia.

And Ukraine applied for Nato membership only after Putin illegally annexed four regions of south and eastern Ukraine in September 2022, though they had been promised eventual membership during the 2008 Bucharest summit in Romania

Since 1949, NATO’s membership has increased from 12 to 32 countries through 10 rounds of enlargement.