KEIR Starmer’s “deranged” support for Nato risks “unmitigated catastrophe” in Ukraine, Diane Abbott has told The National.

An article penned by the Labour leader gave a staunch defence of Nato and claimed anti-war campaigners were either “naive”, or actively backing dictators.

The piece, published in The Guardian, was slammed by Abbott, a longstanding Labour MP and stalwart pacifist.

She told The National that continued support of Nato was “deranged”, and said wars started by the alliance or participated in by its member states had caused “unmitigated catastrophe” for residents of the affected countries.

The National:

Abbott added: “After the series of wars from Afghanistan to Iraq to Syria the verdict is quite clear.

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“Those of us who opposed these wars were proven correct. They continue to be an unmitigated catastrophe for the countries concerned and their people.

“The supporters of Nato want to brush that all aside and pretend it never happened. Their aim is to continue down the same disastrous path. This policy is deranged, and some of us will continue to say so."

The National:

And Starmer’s “sabre-rattling” was slammed as “hypocritical” given his past anti-war activism – having marched against the Iraq War in 2003.  

The piece singled out peace campaigners Stop the War – saying pacifist movements were not “benign voices for peace”.

Starmer wrote: “At best they are naive; at worst they actively give succour to authoritarian leaders who directly threaten democracies.

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“There is nothing progressive in showing solidarity with the aggressor when our allies need our solidarity and – crucially – our practical assistance, now more than ever.”

The National:

The pointed comments came before his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn and Abbott were due to speak at a Stop the War Coalition online meeting on Thursday night.

John Rees, the founder of Stop the War, said comments such as Starmer’s is one of the “triggers for conflict”.

He added: “We’re saying there should be negotiations and we agree with the Ukrainian government who said that all this talk of war is hyperbole and people should calm down – I agree with that.

"A border dispute like this should be agreed diplomatically. It’s only the British and the Americans who are sabre rattling and I think they should cut it out.”

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Rees, a veteran anti-war campaigner, said that if a war in Ukraine came to pass he would hold Starmer “as culpable” as he does Tony Blair for Iraq.

The National:

Responding to Starmer’s suggestion anti-war campaigners were effectively backing dictators and despots, Rees said: “We hear this every single time we oppose our own government. We hear that we must be supporting the Taliban, Saddam Hussein, Colonel Gaddafi and now Putin – none of it’s true.

“You can be critical of your own government without for a moment thinking that any of those people are good people.

“Nato has massively expanded up to Russian borders since the fall of the Berlin Wall. You only have to imagine if that had been in reverse. That must look threatening.”

A spokesperson for the Scottish CND said: "It is obvious that Starmer is not addressing the public here but is parading his puppy-like orthodoxy before the UK establishment and the right-wing media.

"NATO is still fundamentally about the establishment and spread of US military and economic power, its leadership of the western bloc and its search for new client states."

The UK has put 1000 troops on standby in case of a humanitarian crisis in the east if the current Russian military build-up leads to war.

It has also pledged extra help for Nato allies, with 350 Royal Marines arriving in Poland to coincide with the Prime Minister’s visit on Thursday.

Russia has insisted it has no plans to invade Ukraine but the Nato alliance is alarmed by the build-up of more than 100,000 troops on the borders with its neighbour.

During his overseas engagements, Boris Johnson indicated further military support could be offered to Ukraine if Russia invades.

The Labour Party was approached for comment.