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Volume 578: debated on Tuesday 25 March 2014

2. What assessment he has made of the legal implications for the UK of Russia’s recognition of Crimea as a sovereign state. (903265)

3. What assessment he has made of the legal implications for the UK of Russia’s recognition of Crimea as a sovereign state. (903266)

The steps taken by President Putin to annex Crimea to Russia, including recognition of Crimea as a sovereign state, are a flagrant breach of international law and Russia’s international obligations. The United Kingdom, in common with the European Union and the majority of the international community, does not recognise the 16 March Crimea referendum or its outcome as legitimate or of any credibility or value. As has been made clear by my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary at this Dispatch Box, Russian actions threaten the rules-based system of international order, a fundamental principle of which is respect for the territorial integrity of states.

My constituents of Ukrainian descent in Huddersfield are following this crisis closely. Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that this crisis should have been resolved through diplomacy and international law, and that we, and others, must not exacerbate the situation through such unilateral and provocative actions?

I agree entirely with my hon. Friend. As he is aware from what the Prime Minister said, there was no basis or justification for Russia’s actions in Crimea, even before it moved on to annexation. Its decisions to do that are, as I said, in flagrant breach of its international legal obligations. The United Kingdom is co-operating with other states, including those of the G7 and the European Union, in making clear that such behaviour is unacceptable, and that there will continue to be consequences for as long as Russia does not de-escalate the crisis.

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that it is more important than ever that we depend on the stability and security of the international order?

I agree entirely with my hon. Friend. Although at times people call into question the mechanisms of international order under the charter of the United Nations, or in a European Context those of the Council of Europe, they have delivered over time real improvements in the way in which states behave towards each other. That is why the actions of the Russian Government in tearing up the rule book in this way are so sinister and so chilling.

Is the Attorney-General satisfied that the United Kingdom in particular has fulfilled all its obligations under the Budapest memorandum?

I have no reason to think that the United Kingdom has not fulfilled its undertakings under the memorandum. The memorandum provided some important mechanisms and assurances for the Ukrainian Government when Ukraine gave up its nuclear arsenal, and it is clear that those have not been observed by the Russian Government.

So why does the United Kingdom not move to expel Russia from the Council of Europe? My right hon. and learned Friend has said in the past that if we do not give prisoners the vote we will be expelled from the Council of Europe, so surely on the issue of proportionality it is important that we spell out to Russia that it should leave the Council of Europe, and if not, it should be expelled.

As my hon. Friend is aware, and as the Prime Minister made clear at the G7 summit, the United Kingdom Government will, along with its partners, look at a range of sanctions and responses, depending on how the crisis unfolds and whether the Russian Government seek to de-escalate it. The best answer I can give is that nothing is ruled out at all.