Nigel Farage has dismissed criticism of his praise for Vladimir Putin - insisting the Russian president deserves more respect than David Cameron.
The Ukip leader came under fire after he named Mr Putin as the premier he admired most, telling GQ magazine that while he did not approve of his politics, his handling of the Syria crisis had been "brilliant".
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg branded the comments "grotesque".
"I just think it is utterly grotesque that Nigel Farage apparently admires - and that was the question to him, 'Who do you admire?' - admires someone, Vladimir Putin, who has been the chief sponsor and protector of one of the most brutal dictators on the face of the planet, President Assad," the Liberal Democrat leader told a press conference.
"And to then express his admiration by saying that he thinks that Vladimir Putin has played it all as if it's a game. This isn't a game. This is thousands upon thousands of people being killed and brutalised and murdered and chased from their homes who we are now taking into our country."
Speaking at a Chatham House event this afternoon Mr Farage stressed that he had made the remarks months ago.
"I said it just after Parliament had voted not to go to war in Syria, thank God," he said.
Asked in the GQ interview which current world leader he admired most, Mr Farage replied: "As an operator, but not as a human being, I would say Putin."