Marcel de Graaff attracted criticism after saying that "NATO seems to be planning a nuclear first strike."
Dutch far-right MEP Marcel de Graaff has left the far-right Identity and Democracy (ID) group in the European Parliament after being suspended over his public support of Russia and its illegal war on Ukraine.
The lawmaker from the Netherlands' right-wing populist Forum for Democracy party said in a statement that his decision was taken over the group's "attempt to silence me about NATO/Ukraine".
"There is no room for a different opinion in the ID group. Members are now forced to follow the position of the parties ruling in their own countries. They have sacrificed their principles for power but I am not prepared to do that," de Graaff wrote.
"I am in favour of de-escalating the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and I distance myself from the extremely belligerent position of the ID group," he added.
The ID group, which counts 65 MEPs from ten member states including from Italy's Lega Party, France's Rassemblement National and Germany's Alternative for Germany, suspended de Graaf last Thursday due to "repeated provocative statement" regarding Russia's war in Ukraine, it said in its own statement.
Such statements included "Go, Putin!" as well as "NATO seems to be planning a nuclear first strike, as it becomes clear that they will lose the conflict in Ukraine."
ID added in its statement that "internal debate is always welcome within the ID group, but every Member needs to accept that other Members and delegations within the Group may not be damaged by positions that are unacceptable and outrageous."
As a result of his exit from ID, Marcel de Graaf will become a non-attached MEP, which means he does not belong to any political group in the parliament.
This is not the first time the MEP attracts controversy.
In 2018, de Graaf was the subject of a letter of complaint from members of the European Parliament's Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup (ARDI) to Parliament President Antonio Tajani after he told the plenary that Muslim people were "returning Europe back into the Middle Ages."