Former British prime minister Tony Blair rejected comparisons between the US-led invasion of Iraq, which Blair backed, nearly 20 years ago and Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine. Blair clarified his view in an exclusive interview with dpa and the European news agencies AFP, ANSA and EFEHe said then-Iraqi president Saddam Hussein had brutalised his people, engaged in two wars violating international law and used chemical weapons to kill 12,000 people in a single day. He said the coalition forces that went into Iraq and toppled Hussein could not be equated with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, which is “a country that has a democratically elected president who, to my knowledge, has never started a regional conflict or committed any aggression against its neighbours.” Blair conceded that Putin could use the 2003 invasion of Iraq, carried out without a UN Security Council mandate, to try to justify his war of aggression. “But, you know, if he didn’t use that excuse, he’d use another,” Blair said.The assemblage of states on the UN Security Council, with Russia and China as veto powers, makes an international rules-based world order “very difficult,” Blair added.A coalition of countries - led by the United States and with allies like Britain - attacked Iraq starting on March 20, 2003, to remove Hussein from power. The goal was soon achieved, but the country quickly sank into a spiral of violence that left hundreds of thousands of people dead in the ensuing years.The terrorist network Islamic State also took advantage of the political chaos and took control of large parts of the country for a time.