Bernie Eccleston has said he would ‘still take a bullet’ for warring Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, who ‘believed he was doing the right thing’ by ordering his bloody invasion of Ukraine

In a bizarre interview on Good Morning Britain, the former Formula 1 owner, 91, branded the 69-year-old dictator a ‘first class person’ and ‘sensible’.

It comes after reports of Russian attacks on apartment buildings and a shopping mall in Ukraine, the latter of which was branded a war crime by western leaders. 

Ecclestone said such civilian losses were ‘not intentional’, despite tens of thousands of innocent civilians feared dead in the eastern European country at the hands of indiscriminate shelling. 

Speaking from a sunny rooftop in Ibiza, Ecclestone also took a shot at Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, saying he was a comedian before the war and appeared to ‘want to continue being one.’ 

The billionaire then insisted the invasion ‘could have ended differently’ if Zelensky had ‘talked with Putin’. 

In a bizarre interview on Good Morning Britain, former Formula 1 owner Bernie Ecclestone, 91, branded 69-year-old dictator Vladimir Putin a ‘first class person’ and ‘sensible.’

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and F1 Supremo Bernie Ecclestone (R) attend the Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix competition October 11, 2015 in Sochi, Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and F1 Supremo Bernie Ecclestone (R) attend the Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix competition October 11, 2015 in Sochi, Russia

When pressed by journalist Kate Garraway, who asked if he believed a change in Zelensky’s actions, rather than Putin’s, could have avoided war, Ecclestone replied: ‘Absolutely.’

He added: ‘What he’s doing is something he believed was the right thing for Russia. 

‘Unfortunately, like a lot of business people, certainly like me, we make mistakes from time to time, and when you’ve made the mistake you have to do the best you can to get out of it.’

‘I think if it had been conducted properly – I mean the other person in Ukraine, his profession I understand he used to be a comedian, and I think he seems to want to continue that profession because I think if he had thought about things he would have definitely made a big enough effort to speak to Mr Putin, who is a sensible person and would have listened to him and probably done something about it.’  

Ben Shephard quizzed Ecclestone about the thousands of innocent lives killed in Ukraine, asking him: ‘You can’t justify that, surely?’ 

Ecclestone responded: ‘I don’t. It wasn’t intentional – look at all times America has moved into different countries which is nothing to do with America.’ 

He added: ‘And I’m quite sure Ukraine, if they’d wanted to get out of it properly, could have done.’

Asked if he has had a chance to speak to Putin about ‘what a mess’ the situation is or urged him to rethink what he is doing, Ecclestone said: ‘No. He’s probably thought about that himself. He probably doesn’t need reminding.

‘I’m absolutely sure he now wishes he hadn’t started this whole business, but didn’t start as a war.’

It is not the first time Ecclestone has offered to take a bullet for Putin, a longtime friend of his. 

In 2019, he said he would ‘stand in front of a machine gun’ to save him, because he is a ‘good guy.’ 

He said he did not believe he was behind the infamous Novichok attack in Salisbury, accusing people of making things up. 

He said: ”He didn’t do that. He would be too busy to be worrying about that sort of thing. Storytellers make these things up.’ 

Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok on March 4 2018.

Dawn Sturgess, 44, died after she came into contact with a perfume container used to carry the Novichok on June 30.

The two suspects – known by their aliases Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov – were caught on CCTV in Salisbury the day before the attack, and in an interview claimed they were just visiting to see the town to see the cathedral.

The ex-F1 boss also said he thought Putin should be running Europe and that the invasion of Crimea was just to ‘bring Russia back together.’

He added: ‘I would like him running Europe,’ he says. ‘We haven’t got anybody, so it couldn’t be any worse. He does what he says he is going to do . . .

‘I am not a supporter of democracy. You need a dictator. As a dictator, you say, ‘This is what I am going to do.’ In a democracy, it gets watered down.’

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