Ukraine Update Debate

Full Debate: Read Full Debate
Department: Ministry of Defence
Thursday 20th October 2022

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

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.

Kevan Jones Portrait Mr Kevan Jones (North Durham) (Lab)
- Hansard - -

I thank the Defence Secretary for his statement and his leadership during this difficult time. I also thank the members of our armed forces who are supporting our efforts in Ukraine and in eastern Europe, and, indeed, the civil servants behind the right hon. Gentleman in his Department.

In his statement, the Defence Secretary mentioned the Russians targeting drone attacks on civilians. Over the last few weeks, as the Ukrainians have gained ground, it has become clear that war crimes have been perpetrated against civilians and members of the armed forces in Ukraine. What expertise and support are we providing to enable the Ukrainians to log evidence and enable the individuals concerned to be brought to account?

Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for what he has said. When the war crimes in Bucha and not far outside Kyiv were exposed, a group of us—including the United Kingdom, alongside the Canadians—began the process of gathering evidence for the International Criminal Court. My colleague the now former Home Secretary, who was then the Attorney General, visited Ukrainian herself, and worked with the then prosecutor. The Red Cross is also engaged in gathering such information. Its biggest challenge is the sheer scale of the amount of evidence that we are now uncovering.

The fact that Russia does not invade and occupy a country with any civility towards or regard for its people adds to the anxiousness of our friends in the Baltic states; Russia seems to destroy everything in its path. The worry of a small Baltic state is that it does not have time for the rest of us to get there. That is why we are committed to a battlegroup in Estonia. If we give Russia time, there will not be much left when we arrive. That is why we have to send a message that this course is unacceptable.