Ukip MEP Diane James praises Russian President Vladimir Putin for being 'very nationalist'

Last year Nigel Farage said he admired Putin "as an operator"

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Indy Politics

A Ukip MEP has praised controversial Russia President Vladimir Putin, lauding him as a “very nationalist leader” who is “standing up for his country.”

Diane James, who recently withdrew as Ukip's General Election candidate in North West Hampshire for family reasons, told LBC radio: “I do admire him. He is a very strong leader.”

Mirroring previous comments made by Ukip leader Nigel Farage, who said he admired Putin for how he dealt with civil war in Syria, Mrs James praised the President’s response to the conflict in Ukraine.

"I admire him from the point of view that he's standing up for his country. He's very nationalist.

"I do admire him. He is a very strong leader."

She continued: "He is putting Russia first and he has issues with how the EU encouraged a change of government in the Ukraine, which he felt put at risk and put in danger a Russian population in that country.

“Nigel went on record saying if you provoke the Russian bear you're going to get a reaction.”

Mrs James made the comments during an all-female debate on LBC after, where she stepped in for Ukip deputy chairman Suzanne Evans lwho ost her voice. She appeared alongside Conservative Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, Harriet Harman or Labour and Lib Dem Lynne Featherstone.

Last year, Farage told GQ magazine in an interview that he admired Putin “as an operator, but not as a human being.

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

In an election which has so far not see Ukip perform as well as its members may have hoped, the latest poll by YouGov showed that Ukip would have 13 percent of the vote.

It was also one of three opinion polls to see Labour enjoying a lead against the Conservatives, who are at 35 and 35 per cent, respectively. Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats are at 8 percent with the Greens at 5 per cent. 

Additional reporting by PA