Home U.S Gary Lineker deletes Ukraine crisis tweet after facing fierce backlash

Gary Lineker deletes Ukraine crisis tweet after facing fierce backlash

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BBC football pundit Gary Lineker has been forced into another humiliating climbdown after branding money spent on the UK’s nuclear deterrent ‘madness’.

The former England player turned presenter launched the attack on cash injected into the weapons’ programme as Russia launched its blistering attack on Ukraine.

But he later deleted it – admitting his post was ‘ambiguous and therefore misinterpreted’ – before saying he wished ‘nukes didn’t exist anywhere’.

Commentators quickly dismissed the ex-striker’s claims as they pointed out Ukraine gave up its nuclear arsenal in 1994 – but has still been invaded.

Russian forces swooped across the east of the country on Thursday as it launched a ‘full-scale war’, bombarding cities and bases with airstrikes as civilians fled in terror.

Ukraine’s president said Vladimir Putin’s soldiers were trying to seize the Chernobyl nuclear plant, site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster.

As war ravaged the country on Thursday morning, retired footballer Lineker decided to give his analysis on the crisis.

The former England player turned presenter launched the attack on cash injected into the weapons' programme as Russia launched its blistering attack on Ukraine

The former England player turned presenter launched the attack on cash injected into the weapons’ programme as Russia launched its blistering attack on Ukraine

But he later deleted it - admitting his post was'ambiguous and therefore misinterpreted' - before saying he wished'nukes didn't exist anywhere'. Pictured: Airstrikes in Ukraine today

But he later deleted it – admitting his post was ‘ambiguous and therefore misinterpreted’ – before saying he wished ‘nukes didn’t exist anywhere’. Pictured: Airstrikes in Ukraine today

Why doesn’t Ukraine have any nuclear weapons?

Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances was a international treaty signed on February, 5, 1994, in Budapest. The diplomatic document saw signatories make promises to each other as part of the denuclearisation of former Soviet republics after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

It was signed by Bill Clinton, John Major, Boris Yeltsin and Leonid Kuchma – the then-rulers of the USA, UK, Russia and Ukraine.

The agreement promises to protest Ukraine’s borders in return for Ukraine giving up its nuclear weapons.

It is not a formal treaty, but rather, a diplomatic document. It was an unprecedented case in contemporary international life and international law. Whether is it legally binding in complex.

‘It is binding in international law, but that doesn’t mean it has any means of enforcement,’ says Barry Kellman is a professor of law and director of the International Weapons Control Center at DePaul University’s College of Law told Radio Free Europe.

He posted on his Twitter page: ‘All those trillions spent on a so called nuclear deterrent. Madness.’

He later removed it and wrote: ‘Deleted my tweet re Nuclear weapons as it was too ambiguous & therefore misinterpreted.’

He continued: ‘To be clear it was a general wish that nukes didn’t exist anywhere.

‘They may have stopped wars, although hypothetical, thus far, but it only needs one madman to launch one, and we’re all screwed.’

He has been forced to delete a number of tweets in the past, including over his BBC salary and the New Zealand haka.

Experts and commentators slammed his latest ‘ignorant’ tweet and one told him to ‘stick to football and crisps’, in reference to his adverts with Walkers.

Chief economist of Pantheon Macroeconomics Ian Shepherdson said: ‘Which nuclear-armed country has been invaded by Russia?

‘Stick to the football and crisps Gary.’ The TV host replied: ‘None yet… let’s hope things don’t escalate.

‘One question: why is it ok for you to have an opinion as a microeconomist but I can’t as a former footballer?’

Mr Shepherdon said: ‘Macro, not micro. Big picture stuff. I wasn’t giving my opinion, I was asking you a question in order to point out the absurdity of yours.

‘To put it another way, do you think Russia would have invaded if Ukraine still had its nukes?’

Lineker added: ‘Now you’re asking my opinion, having told me to stick to football. Extraordinary. Good day.’

UKRAINE LATEST 

  • Global markets tanked with Russia’s ruble sliding to its lowest value ever
  • The price of oil shot up to over $100 per barrel
  • EU will freeze Russian assets, halt access to financial market and target ‘Kremlin interests’
  • Joe Biden said the United States and its allies would impose ‘severe sanctions’ met with G7 counterparts
  • Boris Johnson called the invasion a ‘catastrophe for our continent’ and branded Putin a ‘dictator’ 
  • China repeated calls for talks but refusing to criticize Russia’s attack 
  • Moldova declared a state of emergency
  • Russia suspended movement of vessels in the Azov sea, but kept its ports in the Black Sea open 
  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says invasion is ‘heavy blow’ to regional peace
  • NATO ambassadors scheduled an emergency meeting on Thursday 
  • UN Security Council will discuss a resolution condemning the invasion

LBC presenter and former Tory MP candidate Iain Dale said: ‘Ignorance personified. If Ukraine had not given up its nuclear arsenal in 1994, this would not be happening now.

‘It gave them up in good faith, assuming Russia would stick by its guarantee of Ukraine’s sovereign border under the Budapest Memorandum. Educate yourself.’

Lineker replied: ‘How rude. The nuclear deterrent has probably worked thus far, although it is, of course, hypothetical.

‘My concern is one madman with nukes could do for as all. Hopefully things don’t escalate into something unimaginable. I desperately don’t want to be proved right.’

Dale hit back: ‘So you’re rowing back on your original tweet then. Good.’ The pundit, who later did delete his tweet, said: Not at all. Just explaining it for you.

‘Any reason for the nastiness, Iain? I’m sure we’d agree and disagree on many things, but there’s no need to be so rude.’

Dale put: ‘Apologies. I should have been more moderate in what I said, I get very vexed when people make blithe statements like that which are so easy to say in a tweet but take no account of the difficult decisions those in power have to make. You can’t uninvent nuclear weapons.’

Lineker said: ‘I’m aware of that. I should probably have made it clearer. Apology accepted.’

The radio presenter replied: ‘See, if only Putin and Zelensky could resolve things like this!

‘I won’t say which one of us would be Putin… #grouphug.’

Meanwhile GB News presenter Tom Harwood said: ‘Where has Putin invaded a nuclear power?’ Lineker said: ‘So you want nukes for all? Interesting take.’

Harwood replied: ‘You just described NATO. Which would have prevented this war were Ukraine a member.’

The ex-forward claimed: ‘Isn’t that supposed to be what started it?’ The journalist said: ‘Gary I would seriously consider deleting that tweet if I were you.

‘An expansionist madman started this war, not a sovereign Ukraine’s attempt to join a defensive alliance.’

Lineker said: ‘I’m aware of that, but that is one of his excuses. Not what I think. An expansionist madman with nukes.’

Harwood put: ‘Glad you’re rowing back. A word to the wise – best not to promote the false narratives expansionist madmen with nukes in the future.’

Lineker then claimed: ‘I didn’t row back, you just misunderstood.’ Harwood said: ‘Think everyone can see what your tweet said and make up their own minds.’

The Match of the Day host replied: ‘My tweet is clear: I’m not a fan of any country having nuclear weapons. Simple.

‘They may or may not have stopped a war, but if ever one is ever launched in anger, then we’re all screwed.’

Harwood continued: ‘The distinct impression of your message is that: 1. You blamed Russia’s invasion on Ukraine’s wish to join NATO.

‘2. In the face of expansionist nuclear powers armed with nukes attacking neighbours, you would like to disarm the world’s preeminent democratic defensive alliance.’ Lineker conceded: ‘You’re twisting my words. Good day.’

Ukraine was once the third largest nuclear power in the world when thousands were left following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

But the country decided to abandon the weapons for good in the 1994 Budapest Memorandum when Russia, the UK and US promised not to invade.

Putin effectively tore up the document overnight as he sent his forces into the sovereign nation in a blistering night-time raid.

Large explosions were heard in the capital and in other cities and people massed in train stations and took to roads.

The chief of NATO said the ‘brutal act of war’ shattered peace in Europe, joining a chorus of world leaders who decried the attack.

The conflict was already shaking global financial markets: Stocks plunged and oil prices soared amid concerns that heating bills and food prices would skyrocket.

Condemnation rained down not only from the US and Europe, but from South Korea, Australia and beyond.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy cut diplomatic ties with Moscow and declared martial law.

He posted on his Twitter page: ‘As of today, our countries are on different sides of world history.

‘Russia has embarked on a path of evil, but Ukraine is defending itself and won’t give up its freedom.’

An image captured near Kiev shows what appears to be the wreckage of a downed Russian attack helicopter with a soldier parachuting out of it (to the left of the frame)

An image captured near Kiev shows what appears to be the wreckage of a downed Russian attack helicopter with a soldier parachuting out of it (to the left of the frame)

The attack has come to Ukraine on all fronts, with bombs and missiles striking targets across the country, ground forces rolling in from Belarus, Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk, and paratroopers dropping on Kharkiv

A huge explosion is seen at Vinnytsia military base, in central Ukraine, as the country comes under all-out attack by Russia

A huge explosion is seen at Vinnytsia military base, in central Ukraine, as the country comes under all-out attack by Russia

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