Vladimir Putin meets with members of the Russian Security Council via video at the Kremlin, Moscow, Friday 9 Feb, 2024. Credit: (Sergei Ilyin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Rishi Sunak has labelled Putin’s claims that the West and NATO are to blame for the war in Ukraine as “clearly ridiculous”.

The prime minister’s comments came after Putin made the claim during an  interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson yesterday. This was the Russian president’s first interview with Western media since the invasion of Ukraine two years ago.

Putin repeated his claim that the invasion, which the West described as an unprovoked act of aggression, was necessary to prevent Ukraine from posing a threat to Moscow by joining NATO.

Speaking to broadcasters during a visit to the south west of England today, Sunak said it was “clearly ridiculous” to blame NATO and the West for the war.

“Russia conducted an illegal, unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. I’m proud that the UK has stood strongly with Ukraine from the beginning,” said Sunak.

The prime minister visited Ukraine earlier this year “to announce significant military support to Ukraine and also a broader security relationship with them.”

In the interview with Carlson, Putin also said Russia stands ready to negotiate a potential prisoner exchange that would free Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich. The journalist was detained last March on espionage charges, which he denies, and hinted that Moscow wants the release of an agent imprisoned in Germany.