Northern Ireland

Sammy Wilson says West provoked Vladimir Putin into invading Ukraine

The DUP veteran’s controversial remarks echo those of Reform UK leader Nigel Farage

Shots have been fired at the Carrickfergus constituency office of DUP MP Sammy Wilson.
It is reported the shots were fired overnight.

Sammy Wilson has said the West provoked Vladimir Putin into invading Ukraine – sentiments which echo recent remarks by Nigel Farage that were widely condemned.

The DUP veteran made the comments at a Westminster election hustings in Larne, Co Antrim on Sunday.

One of his fellow panelists has described the remarks as “absolutely shocking”.

Mr Wilson was joined at the Craigyhill Methodist Church event by fellow East Antrim Westminster candidates Danny Donnelly and the Green’s Mark Bailey.

The panelists were asked about Mr Farage’s recent remarks, in which he said the EU and Nato “provoked” Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by expanding eastwards.

The Reform UK leader recently endorsed Mr Wilson and his DUP colleague Ian Paisley ahead of the July 4 election, despite his party signing a memorandum of understanding with TUV.

Mr Farage comments were widely criticised, with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak saying such sentiment “plays into Putin’s hands”, while Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer described them as “disgraceful”.

Mr Wilson told the hustings event to listen to what the Reform UK leader said.

“What he said was that if Putin wants an excuse to restore the kind of buffer states around Eastern Europe that Russia would always use as a means of defence after their experience in the Second World War,” he said.

“The EU pushing for expansion will give them the excuse.”

Mr Wilson said Mr Farage made it clear he is an opponent of President Putin and opposes the invasion of Ukraine.

“I didn’t hear people do the same when during the (2016 EU) referendum campaign Leo Varadkar talked about: ‘If you vote for Brexit, you’re going to have a return to IRA violence,’” he said.

“There was a direct example of where a politician on this island used the threat of violence to try and stop a certain political event happening – there wasn’t the same outcry about Leo Varadkar using that kind of tactic.”

Mr Wilson, whose Carrickfergus office attacked earlier this week, was said he spoke about Ukraine in the House of Commons at every opportunity and that it was “important to defend democracy”.

He said Mr Farage was “only stating the obvious”.

Asked if the West provoked Putin, the DUP veteran said: “I believe that Russia always wanted to invade Ukraine. Did the West give him an excuse? Yes they did.”

Mr Donnelly told The Irish News that the remarks were “absolutely shocking”.

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was a blatant act of aggression and Putin is to blame, nobody else,” he said.

The Alliance MLA said Mr Wilson’s assessment was “not only incorrect but deeply dangerous”.

“The question now must be put to the DUP leadership – is this an official DUP party position? Urgent clarity is needed,” he said.

The Irish News has approached Mr Wilson and the DUP for comment.