'Putin apologist' Corbyn desperately defends Russia record after attacking NATO for war

The former Labour leader sparked outrage in recent weeks after being accused of failing to blame Moscow for the invasion of Ukraine. Mr Corbyn has been branded a “Putin apologist” after claiming NATO expansion had played a role in creating the environment for the current war.

The Islington North MP is vice-president of the Stop the War Coalition that has been a vehement critic of the defence alliance.

He has signed a letter from the group that claims Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is “the product of 30 years of failed policies, including the expansion of Nato and US hegemony at the expense of other countries as well as major wars of aggression by the USA, Britain and other Nato powers which have undermined international law and the United Nations”.

It added: “The British Government has played a provocative role in the present crisis, talking up war, decrying diplomacy as appeasement and escalating arms supplies and military deployments to Eastern Europe.”

In a video released on his social media with the caption “some of us have never supported Putin”, Mr Corbyn sought to distance himself from claims he is parroting the Kremlin.


Attempting to change the perception he has been weak on standing up to Russia, he highlighted that in 2003 he spoke out against Putin’s treatment of Chechnya, which was seeking independence from Russia.

He added Labour’s 2019 election manifesto included pledges to reduce the flow of Russian money into the UK.

The veteran MP said: “Putin came into office on the back of support from some very dodgy oligarchs in Russia.

“Some of us have never supported Putin and never supported the oligarchs surrounding him.

“Indeed, when he was on a very welcomed state visit by the British government, some of us were standing together with the Chechen people.

“Later, I was part of an all party delegation to Moscow to speak up for the Chechen people being bombed in Grozny by Putin’s forces.

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“And we’ve always stood up for some transparency on all the Russian money that’s come into Britain.

“And that’s why our 2019 election manifesto was absolutely specific.

“That we would stop the flow of this money and the corruption of Britain’s commercial and political systems by the influence of very dodgy Russian money.

“Sadly, it’s taken the deaths of so many in Ukraine to turn attention on the malevolent influence of stolen Russian assets on our public life.”

Despite Mr Corbyn’s defence, his record on Russia has sparked alarm on multiple occasions in the past.

As well as criticising NATO in the run up to the Ukraine invasion, he also refused to condemn Putin for the Salisbury poisoning in 2018.

He was accused in the House of Commons of “appeasement” after he refused to blame Putin.

Mr Corbyn’s spokesman at the time refused to be drawn on if the Kremlin was responsible saying: “The Government has access to information and intelligence on this matter which others don’t.”

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