PRITI Patel has been accused of “deliberately” echoing the rhetoric used by Donald Trump in her efforts to justify the UK’s refusal to waive visa requirements for Ukraine’s refugees.

Hundreds of thousands of people are estimated to have already fled the nation after Vladimir Putin’s Russia launched a “full-scale invasion” in February.

The Tory government has resisted calls from campaigners and opposition to waive visa requirements for people fleeing the warzone, introducing instead only limited concessions for those with familial ties to the UK.

READ MORE: Pleas on waiving visas for Ukraine refugees snubbed by Tories

Announcing some of these concessions in Westminster on Monday, Home Secretary Patel further gave reasons why the Tories would not be offering “full visa waivers for all Ukrainians” as other European nations have done.

She said it “is vital to keep British citizens safe and to ensure that we are helping those in genuine need, particularly as Russian troops are now infiltrating Ukraine and merging into Ukrainian forces”.

“Intelligence reports also state the presence of extremist groups and organisations who threaten the region, but also our domestic homeland. We know all too well what Putin’s Russia is willing to do, even on our soil, as we saw through the Salisbury attack and the nerve agents used on the streets of the UK. The approach we are taking is based on the strongest security advice.”

The Scottish Refugee Council said it was "unacceptable to be casting suspicion on these people ... who are only trying to reach safety".

The National: Former president Donald Trump

The claims that Russian terrorists may have infiltrated groups of Ukrainian refugees echoes former US president Donald Trump’s (above) claim during the Syrian refugee crisis: “Who knows who they are – some could be ISIS.”

A group of academics writing for The Conversation said such rhetoric had been “cleverly exploited by politicians fueling anti-immigrant populism that catapulted xenophobic agendas to the forefront of national politics”.

Speaking to The National, the SNP’s immigration spokesperson Anne McLaughlin said there were “a lot of similarities between Trump’s administration and the current one in the UK”.

“I notice a lot of the rhetoric that they use is similar,” she went on. “The parallels that they like to draw are similar particularly when it comes to people seeking refuge.”

READ MORE: Priti Patel refuses to waive UK visas for Ukraine citing fears of Russian 'infiltration'

Addressing Patel’s announcement, McLaughlin said: “What she was doing was she was trying to conflate vulnerable refugees fleeing war with violent terrorist infiltrators, and she’s not alone in doing that. I hear all of the immigration ministers doing it. I’ve called [Deputy Prime Minister] Dominic Raab out for doing it.

“They do it deliberately, it’s a really conscious thing that they’re doing so that people say, ‘oh hang on’.”

McLaughlin said polling had shown an extremely high proportion of the UK public were open to helping Ukrainian refugees and suggested that Patel may have been “worried” by the figures.

“She puts that little spanner in the works so that people are less likely to push for [a complete waiver of visas]. It’s despicable,” the SNP MP said.

McLaughlin pointed to the policy adopted by the EU’s 27 member states in waiving all visa requirements for Ukrainians for three years. She questioned what security advice the UK was getting that these nations were not.

“How come 27 European countries are content to do it and we’re not,” she said. “The EU countries didn’t just panic, they had clearly given it some thought. If they can do it, if their risk assessment shows that risk is extremely minimal, then why can’t we?”

Asked if there could be any element of danger involved in letting Ukrainian refugees enter the UK without a visa, McLaughlin said: “There’s always a risk, there’s a risk whatever we do.

"But I think the far greater risk is to the whole of humanity if we just turn our backs on these people.”

READ MORE: Lords reject 'complete nonsense' in Priti Patel's 'cruel' refugee bill

Gary Christie, the head of policy, communications and communities at the Scottish Refugee Council, also said Patel’s measures did not “go far enough”.

He went on: “Changes to existing visa routes are simply inadequate to bring refugees to safety from a warzone. We need to see the UK Government offer solutions which match the gravity of mass displacement from a conflict on our doorstep.  

“The Home Secretary mentioned that waiving visas was too great a security risk. But this is not a true barrier to offering people safety. It’s unacceptable to be casting suspicion on these people who are mainly women and children who are only trying to reach safety. 

“The UK must step up and act in solidarity not only with Ukraine, but with our European neighbours, and take its share of the responsibility and care for the safety of refugees in Europe.”

The Home Office has been approached for comment.