Formula 1’s Bernie Ecclestone has defended Russia’s president Vladimir Putin, saying despite the war in Ukraine: “I’d still take a bullet for him.”
The controversial former motorsport boss, 91, made his remarks on Good Morning Britain, when asked, “do you still regard him as a friend, do you still stand by that feeling towards him?”
Ecclestone was criticised by senior current F1 bosses, while Tom Tugendhat, Conservative MP and chair of the foreign affairs committee branded his comments “practically treacherous”.
He responded to the question via video link while in Ibiza, against the backdrop of pictures of him alongside Putin, saying: “I’d still take a bullet for him”.
“I’d rather it didn’t hurt but I’d still take a bullet.”
“Because, he’s a first class person and what he’s doing is something he believes is the right thing he is doing for Russia.”
This comes as Russia’s war against Ukraine enters its 126th day, with NATO leaders increasing the amount of military support for the country, and others neighbouring Russia who could be threatened by the Kremlin.
“Unfortunately, he’s like a lot of business people, certainly like me; we make mistakes from time to time. And when you’ve made mistakes you’ve got to do the best you can do to get out of it.”
Speaking about the Kremlin’s bloody war in Ukraine which has led to the deaths of thousands, destruction of whole cities and the creation of millions of refugees, Ecclestone said it hasn’t been “conducted properly”.
“The other person in Ukraine [President Zelensky] his profession from my understanding, he used to be a comedian.”
“He wants to continue that profession because I think if he’d have thought about things, he would would have made a big enough effort to speak to Mr Putin.. like any sensible person, he could have listened to him and probably done something about it”.
When confronted with the impact of the war and asked whether he would “justify” that, Ecclestone said: “It wasn’t intentional”.
“Look at the number of times America has moved into different countries which is nothing to do with America. In America it’s their business as they like wars because they sell a lot of armaments.
Speaking on Talk TV this morning, Tom Tugendhat, Conservative MP and chair of the foreign affairs committee branded his comments “practically treacherous”.
“Frankly, Mr Ecclestone’s judgement is deeply questionable,” , told said.“What [Mr] Putin was suggesting to [President] Zelensky was that he offered his entire country as slaves.
“Frankly I don’t think that’s a rational decision for a President, I think President Zelensky has done the extraordinarily brave and correct thing which is to stand up to this extraordinary tyrant.
“The reality is President Putin has used chemical weapons in Salisbury, he has used nuclear chemicals in London. Had those chemicals got astray they could easily have killed quite literally thousands of people here in the United Kingdom.
“I think what Bernie Ecclestone is talking about is frankly practically traitorous.”