Jeremy Corbyn and his spin chief Seumas Milne were condemned by one of their own MPs last night for their ‘long history’ of being on the same side as Moscow.
Russian state media yesterday praised the Labour leader’s warning that retaliatory action by Britain would lead only to ‘increased tensions’.
Mr Corbyn sparked uproar in the Commons on Monday when he used his response to Theresa May’s statement on the spy poisoning scandal to take a swipe at the Tories over donations from individuals with links to Russia.
Jeremy Corbyn sparked uproar in the Commons on Monday when he used his response to Theresa May’s statement on the spy poisoning scandal to attack donations to the Tory party from individuals with links to Russia
Mr Corbyn, pictured, has spent decades behaving sympathetically towards Moscow
Senior Labour figures are concerned about Corbyn’s view about Russia and Vladimir Putin
But a dossier compiled by the Daily Mail today reveals how Mr Corbyn’s weak response in the face of Russian aggression comes after decades of behaving sympathetically towards Moscow.
His hard-Left spin doctor and director of strategy, Mr Milne, has also long supported Vladimir Putin – and even appeared at an event with the Russian president after his invasion of Ukraine in 2014.
John Woodcock, the chairman of Labour’s backbench foreign affairs committee, yesterday spoke out against Mr Corbyn, telling BBC Radio 5 Live: ‘If you look at Jeremy Corbyn’s long history on Russia and the views of key people around him, like Seumas Milne, they have been on the wrong side of very important arguments and disagreements that Russia has had with the UK over many years.’
Mr Woodcock added that Mr Corbyn’s Commons appearance ‘wasn’t his best day’. ‘Many of us thought Jeremy got the tone wrong,’ he said.
Mr Corbyn had told MPs that ministers should ‘continue seeking a robust dialogue with Russia on all the issues’, rather than ‘simply cutting off contact and letting the tensions and divisions get worse and, potentially, even more dangerous’.
David Miliband yesterday accused Mr Corbyn of behaving like Donald Trump when it comes to dealing with Russia. The former Labour foreign secretary suggested he was not ‘standing up for British citizens’ with his response to the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal and his daughter.
Mr Miliband told the BBC: ‘Some of the contents of what Jeremy Corbyn was saying, it was strangely like the kind of things President Trump says about the need to engage in dialogue, to keep on talking to them.
‘No one is saying that all contact is going to be cut off. The question is whether there are actions as well as words. It is only actions that show the Russians we are serious.’
However, Russian state media reported Mr Corbyn’s comments approvingly. TV channel Zveda, which is run by the Russian ministry of defence, published an online story with the headline: ‘The leader of the British Labour Party calls for a dialogue with Russia.’
Mr Milne was pictured shaking hands with Mr Putin at a conference in Sochi in October 2014 – just a year before he was appointed as Mr Corbyn’s director of strategy and communications.
In March 2015, Mr Milne wrote an article for The Guardian in which he complained about how ‘Putin has now become a cartoon villain and Russia the target of almost uniformly belligerent propaganda across the western media’.
He wrote: ‘Anyone who questions the dominant narrative on Ukraine – from last year’s overthrow of the elected president and the role of Ukrainian far right to war crimes carried out by Kiev’s forces – is dismissed as a Kremlin dupe.’ Mr Milne said Britain and its Nato allies were guilty of ‘anti-Russian incitement’, which was a ‘dangerous folly’.
He added: ‘There certainly has been military expansionism. But it has overwhelmingly come from Nato, not Moscow. For 20 years, despite the commitments at the end of the cold war, Nato has marched relentlessly eastwards, taking in first former east European Warsaw Pact states, then republics of the former Soviet Union itself.’
Mr Corbyn has repeatedly criticised Nato, branding it ‘the father of the Cold War’.
Labour leader, his spin doctor and their spinless defence of Russia
Ten times that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and his spin chief Seumas Milne stood with Russia:
Seumas Milne, left, and Jeremy Corbyn, right, have repeatedly supported Russia
- Mr Corbyn brands Nato ‘the father of the Cold War’: ‘Nato, the father of the Cold War in the 1940s, should have shut up shop in 1990. It didn’t just carry on but re-invented itself as a force with global reach.’ (March 9, 2005)
- The Labour leader blames Russian aggression on Nato: ‘I am not condoning what Russia has done and is doing [in Ukraine], but everything has an equal and opposite reaction and so the more you build up Nato forces, the more of an excuse the Russians have.’ (August 11, 2015)
- Mr Corbyn encourages people to watch Russia Today, tweeting: ‘Try Russia Today. Free of Royal Wedding and more objective on Libya than most.’ (April 26, 2011)
- He calls sanctions against Russia ‘disproportionate’: ‘The reaction of the British Government, and of all governments, to incidents of illegal activity around the world has been rather strange and disproportionate. We have placed sanctions on Russia because of the activities in Ukraine and Crimea; Israel is in breach of a large number of UN resolutions, and it is clearly in breach of international law on both collective punishment and the settlement policy, but no sanctions whatever have been proposed.’ (July 17, 2014)
- He mourns the end of the Soviet Union: ‘I am concerned at the break-up of the Soviet Union and the leadership it gave.’ (September 24, 1991)
- Mr Corbyn talks down the threat posed by the former Soviet Union: ‘I do not believe that the former Soviet Union presented a threat, any more than I believe that the remains of the Soviet Union, or Russia, present an external threat now.’ (June 21, 1993)
- He accuses newspapers of feeding the British people ‘a diet of anti-Soviet propaganda’: ‘Not so long ago, when this country did not consider itself to be half at war with the Soviet Union, Britain and the Soviet Union considered that they had many mutual interests and many British soldiers died fighting Nazi-ism, as did many more Soviet soldiers. What I complain about is the way in which we are constantly fed a diet of pro-American propaganda from the Government, through the newspapers, and a diet of anti-Soviet propaganda.’ (June 18, 1986)
- Milne blames Nato rather than Russia for military escalation: ‘This anti-Russian incitement is dangerous folly. There certainly has been military expansionism. But it has overwhelmingly come from Nato, not Moscow. (March 4, 2015)
- The Labour spin chief defends Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea as ‘clearly defensive’: ‘No Russian government could have acquiesced in such a threat from territory that was at the heart of both Russia and the Soviet Union. Putin’s absorption of Crimea and support for the rebellion in eastern Ukraine is clearly defensive.’ (April 30, 2014)
- Milne says the Soviet Union ‘helped to drive up welfare standards’: ‘For all its brutalities and failures, communism in the Soviet Union, eastern Europe and elsewhere delivered rapid industrialisation, mass education, job security and huge advances in social and gender equality. It encompassed genuine idealism… Its existence helped to drive up welfare standards in the west.’ (February 16, 2006)