One of my cleverest interviewees Andrew Marr drops Putin bombshell

Andrew Marr told to ‘shut up’ by UK reporter in Kyiv

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The broadcaster, who spent 21 years at the BBC, said this may no longer be the case but Putin was “one of the cleverest men that I have ever interviewed” during his time at the corporation. Mr Marr’s remarks came amid widespread condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, he said on Monday of Putin: “He was extraordinary.

“He’s got this very famous, cold, cold stare that people talk about, but I would say, listening to him, because he was being interviewed then in lots of different languages, he’s one of the cleverest men that I have ever interviewed.

“He may not be any more, but he was then.”

Mr Marr left the BBC after more than two decades for a new venture on LBC.

As he announced his departure, he said he was looking forward to more freedom to express himself away from the company’s rigid impartiality rules.

Suggesting the Russian president was insane, Mr Marr said the world was going through a perilous time.

He added: “Over the last 50 years we have faced, as a country, frankly deranged foreign leaders, or people whose mental stability we were unsure about, and we have faced nuclear threats, but what we haven’t faced before is the two things coming together at once.

“And that’s why this is such a dangerous moment for us and for the world.”

Reflecting on the Kremlin’s nuclear capabilities, he said he feared “more blood-curdling threats” would come from Putin as the conflict, which turned from diplomatic crisis to full-scale military operation on February 24, advances.

Describing Moscow’s failure to seize the Ukrainian capital Kyiv a decisive element in what steps the dictator decides to take next, Mr Marr said: “I think the concern here is that he hasn’t got many other places to go. I think the economic stranglehold on the Russian economy is brutal, and, by all accounts, highly effective.

“He’s going to find it very, very hard to keep his country running; they’re running out of money, there will be quite soon… people are going to be rioting in the streets about that.”

He continued: “His war machine is not a very warlike war machine. They’re very, very good at killing unarmed civilians, they don’t seem to be quite so good at fighting.

“He’s in real, real trouble in Kyiv. So what else does he have left?

“Frankly, he’s got nuclear weapons left. And that’s why I think we’re going to hear more and more blood-curdling threats from him, and we’re going to have to, as we say in Scotland, keep the heat.”

Amid criticism of the UK’s support for Ukrainian refugees because of claims that only about 50 had been granted visas to enter the UK as of Sunday, Mr Marr criticised “the lack of generosity and openness when we’re bringing people into this country”.

More than 1.7 million Ukrainians are known to have fled Russia’s invasion into Central Europe, the UNHCR said, and if Russia’s bombardment does not stop, the number could fast grow to five million, EU top diplomat Josep Borrell warned.

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Ukraine: Andrew Marr slams UK's 'tin ear' over refugee crisis

The UK has said it will only take Ukrainians with family connections or sponsorship by a third party.

Home Secretary Priit Patel told MPs on Monday she was in the process of setting up a visa application centre (VAC) “en route” to Calais to cross the Channel to Britain.

Responding to accusations Ukrainian refugees arriving in Calais are being greeted by posters telling them to get their UK visas in Paris or Brussel, she said: “We have staff in Calais, we have support on the ground. It is wrong to say we’re just turning people back, we’re absolutely not, we’re supporting those that have been coming to Calais.”

The controversy followed claims by multiple sources close to Ms Patel confirming reports that she was pushing through proposals for a third Ukrainian visa scheme.

However, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Boris Johnson contradicted this shortly afterwards, saying the Home Secretary had been referring to a route announced last week that allows Ukrainian refugees to be sponsored to come to the UK by a third party.

Mr Johnson said: “Let me be very clear, what we won’t do is have a system where people can come into the UK without any checks or any controls at all.”

Mr Marr, echoing the frustration felt by part of the British public, said: “All across Britain, people are raising money, they’re collecting food, they’re collecting clothing to send to the Ukrainians. There is a real sense that we stand with Ukrainians, we want to help and welcome Ukrainians.

“That is the kind of people we are in this country, and to have such a meagre, infuriating visa system at this time, it seems to me that the Foreign Office and the Home Office have got a complete tin ear for the mood of the country.

“They really have to get a grip of this very, very soon indeed.”

Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, put the Government’s handling of the humanitarian crisis into question, too.

She said: “I hope the home secretary is going to deliver some of the promises she has made, but there is a huge gap between the rhetoric and the reality that is badly, badly letting Ukrainian families down.”

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