Nigel Farage: Vladimir Putin is the world leader I most admire

 

Nigel Farage has named Vladimir Putin as the world leader he most admires. He praised the Russian president’s skills as an “operator”, citing his “brilliant” handling of the civil war in Syria.

The Ukip leader’s comments emerged days after he provoked anger by accusing the European Union of having “blood on its hands” for encouraging the turmoil in Ukraine, which led to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

Mr Farage was asked by GQ magazine’s new interviewer Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s former spin chief, which world leader he most admired. “As an operator, but not as a human being, I would say Putin,” he replied. “The way he played the whole Syria thing. Brilliant. Not that I approve of him politically. How many journalists in jail now?”

Moscow is closely allied to the Syrian dictator Bashar Assad and has supplied arms to his regime. It blocked moves to sanction him at the United Nations, but also took the lead in a brokering a deal under which Syria agreed to surrender its chemical weapons.

The remarks echo a clash with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg in last week’s head-to-head debate in which the Ukip leader stressed he did not approve of Crimea’s annexation, but lambasted EU leaders for being “weak and vain” over Ukraine and Syria. He added: “If you poke the Russian bear with a stick, he will respond.”

Mr Farage later rejected accusations that he was siding with Mr Putin, but stood by his claim that the EU provoked the crisis by “destabilising” Ukraine.

The Deputy Prime Minister is expected to return to the theme on Wednesday in his second televised debate with the Ukip leader.

A Lib Dem minister said: “Farage has taken Putin’s side in the most outrageous land-grab in modern times and he must be held to account for that.”

Elsewhere in the interview – the first conducted by Mr Campbell for GQ – Mr Farage used highly undiplomatic language about the German Chancellor Angela Merkel who received the red carpet treatment on a visit to London this month.

The Ukip leader said: “She is incredibly cold. I always say - I agree this is a bit rude - but whatever you think of the public image of Merkel, in private she is even more miserable. I warm to more extrovert people.”

He claimed to see little to choose between the leaders of Britain's three major parties, insisting he did not “give a damn” whether David Cameron or Ed Miliband triumphs in next year’s general election.

He said Mr Cameron was “a perfectly nice fellow who stands four-square for nothing”, Mr Miliband was a “nice chap, not very worldly - I would love to see him in a working men's club in Newcastle” and Mr Clegg was a “very nice guy, just wrong”.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Property
pets
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk