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EU nations which failed to pump enough cash into defence are to blame for Vladimir Putin ’s invasion of Ukraine, America’s former top envoy claimed today.

Ex-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo believed the Russian tyrant would have been deterred if European countries had bolstered their militaries in the post-Cold War years leading up to the conflict.

He said European states needed to be persuaded of the need to “protect their own (sovereignty) and that of their European nations”.

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Urging the UK to pressure continental nations to boost military spending, he said: “For an awfully long time they have largely abandoned any willingness to devote significant resources to protecting their own sovereignty.

Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ( POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

“They depended too much on others to provide that.”

Mr Pompeo was the US’s top diplomat when Donald Trump was in the White House.

The then President regularly slammed European members of NATO for failing to meet the alliance’s spending target to pump 2% of GDP in their armed forces.

Speaking to the British think tank Policy Exchange, Mr Pompeo added: “They weren’t serious about confronting the realities that we can now see demonstrably, but that we all knew that the risk existed, and it’s very much, in my judgement, that weakness that drove what it is we are seeing play out in eastern Europe today, in the eastern Ukraine.”

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