In recent times, we have seen an escalation of activity along the Russian border, first with Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and now with the amassing of a significant military presence with its border with Ukraine. Since August 1991 Ukraine has been an independent sovereign state, independent to determine its own destiny and associations. As set out in a recent paper by President Putin and his associates, the Ukraine history as part of the old soviet order is not in question, however since it has sought an alternative destiny, one of democracy and freedom. Russia’s President does not share the belief that self-determination of a democracy is important, and has set out clearly how past political allegiances must be maintained, even if it is by force.
The current posturing by Russia should, rightly be cause for concern. In recent times we have witnessed the incursion of Russia into its former territorial places. Russia are heavily invested, financially and in other ways, across the West, including funnelling significant wealth through the City of London, through its gas supply infrastructure, and through placing people and investments in such a way to embed. Russia has also sought to use the cyber sphere to spread disinformation and propaganda, and has been found wanting in its influence in democratic political elections. However over recent years, Russia has renewed its military capability and has significant weaponry to deploy.
It is clear that we cannot let this occur. The humanitarian fall out from such conflict would be disastrous for itself on the global stage and for the Ukraine. NATO and allied forces are also amassing a significant presence along the Russian border, and all involved would be wise at this stage to move from conflict to cooperation, and through dialogue seek diplomatic channels through which to de-escalate the current threat. Should such routes fail, then Europe could face the greatest conflict since 1945. The Prime Minister has a significant responsibility to ensure that the risk of escalation is diffused and that channels for diplomatic efforts are maintained.
Russia’s economic, industrial and geopolitical standing in the world has been reduced in the emergence of a newer world order and progressive politics. New allegiances have developed, not least through new trading arrangements and global alliances. Russia’s place in the world order has changed, but to challenge the west, will not only be deeply harmful to Russia, but the sanctions that will be applied, will disrupt its economic choices and investments. The Ukraine is not the only country that we see President Putin planning to disrupt. We have seen an unsettling situation in Estonia, Georgia, other parts of the former soviet union. NATO is therefore focused on defending the region.
I want to see everything possible done to de-escalate risk. The Prime Minister has said that he has not spoken to the President for over a month, and it is his responsibility to lead the diplomatic effort. Clearly his current disposition is hampering his efforts. However without full focus and investment in removing the border tensions with Russia, and moving Russia away from its plans of destabilisation of nations, the cost of conflict will be costly, in terms of lives lost, finances and it would be unknown how such conflict could end. I have already attended briefings with senior military personnel and am investing time to learn more of the risks posed. I will do all I can to ensure that my constituents are kept safe, whether serving with our Armed Forces, part of the Ukrainian diaspora or from the region. The coming days will be crucial to prevent bloodshed and war, it is my hope that that this can be achieved.