Ukraine Update Debate

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Department: Ministry of Defence
Thursday 20th October 2022

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace
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It is possible for us to communicate with the leadership of the Russian Ministry of Defence and the leadership of the Russian Government when we need to, and there is a constant capability to do that. That is not particularly easy across the international community at the moment, because General Gerasimov and Minister Shoigu are clearly engaged in the activity that has led us all to the House today, and they are busy doing that. Communication is possible, and I assure the House that, if it became impossible, I would seek other ways of making sure. I also have close allies and partners who can make calls, if necessary, and we utilise them where needed.

Bob Seely Portrait Bob Seely (Isle of Wight) (Con)
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Given all that is happening in Russia, Ukraine and elsewhere in the world, does the Defence Secretary agree it is right that the Prime Minister has brought forward a commitment to reach defence expenditure of 2.5% of GDP by 2026? We cannot wait until 2030 to deal with the great threats we face now.

Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace
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First and foremost, 2030 is the key point, because we have to pass through 2.5% to get to 3%. The reality is that we need to make sure that the rise to 3% is done sustainably. I cannot be given a blob of money in 2029 and be expected to buy a warship in five weeks. There has to be a proper, graduated response. I will make sure the response includes 2.5% en route to 3% of GDP.

It is also important to remind the House that being part of NATO helps us to achieve global mass, or certainly mass within the north Atlantic, and enables us to deploy very large numbers of troops, if necessary. On paper, NATO still far outnumbers Russian forces. Since Russia has significantly degraded nearly all of its land armed forces, the ratio is even more imbalanced in the favour of NATO.