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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That last point is extremely important. The Department of Health and Social Care has already done significant work in securing medical supplies during the conflict, but the hon. Gentleman prompts me to see what we can do in a more international, co-ordinated manner. I will, perhaps, write to him giving the details of that. He is right to say that this is going to be a tough winter, and we need to make sure that the Ukrainians can cope.

I agree with the hon. Gentleman about the calmness of the RAF. Incredibly professional men and women are doing an incredible job, and not only here. Some of those same aircraft, and the P-8s from Lossiemouth, go out to protect us in the very high north from aggression and Russian activity. It is often in Scotland that Russia enters our airspace with its long-range bombers and the patrols that it did not give up after the cold war. The difference that should be noted is that we were in international airspace. However, we try to retain a professional manner with Russia. It is important that we maintain that professional link with the Russian Ministry of Defence, and recognise that we can still have those important engagements at times like this.

John Whittingdale Portrait Sir John Whittingdale (Maldon) (Con)
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Given the extraordinary success of the Ukrainian armed forces in pushing back Russian troops, does my right hon. Friend agree that there is a danger that Putin may consider escalating the conflict? While attention has focused on the potential use of battlefield nuclear weapons, does he agree that any use of chemical or biological weapons equally represents a red line which Putin must not cross?

Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace
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When it comes to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the chemical weapons convention which all of us, including what are viewed as some of the key anchor countries, have signed up to—when chemical weapons were used in Syria, for instance, military action was taken by countries including ourselves and France—it is extremely important to uphold that convention. Breaking the taboo, or allowing it to be successfully broken, would have severe consequences for all of us. Similarly, the messaging is that the use of nuclear or chemical weapons would lead to severe consequences for the Russian state, and we urge that none of those be resorted to.

As for President Putin’s position, he has obviously made a number of speeches, and he has annexed illegally parts of countries that are still full of Ukrainian forces. His ambitions do not seem to match the realities on the ground. The key message to him is that we are interested in helping Ukraine to succeed in defeating Russia’s illegal invasion. If he understands what that is about, he should be able to calibrate his response so as to leave Ukraine in an orderly manner, and we can start the process of trying to rebuild that amazing country and ensuring that Russia is held accountable for its crimes.