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Volume 582: debated on Tuesday 17 June 2014

With the election of President Poroshenko the Ukrainian people have sent a decisive signal of their support for reform and reconciliation, but illegally armed gangs continue to deny the citizens of Donetsk and Luhansk the opportunity to build a new future for their country. I urge Russia to cease support for those groups and to engage constructively with the Ukrainian Government.

I am grateful for that answer. What assessment has the Foreign Secretary made of the impact of yesterday’s decision to freeze gas supplies to Ukraine on the prospect of improving relations between Ukraine and Russia, and between Russia and the rest of the EU?

We obviously regret Gazprom’s decision to do that. Such decisions damage the credibility of Russia in supplying energy elsewhere across Europe. It is another argument for the diversification of European energy supplies over the coming years to give greater energy security, not only to Ukraine but to many nations of the European Union. We support fully the role of the European Commission in trying to facilitate an agreement, and it will continue to work on this.

Given the fact that the Russians have recently switched off the gas to Ukraine, what does the Foreign Secretary make of the discussions that took place during the D-day commemorations between newly elected President Poroshenko and President Putin? Were they a waste of time?

It is never a waste of time for the Presidents of Russia and Ukraine to talk together. It was important that they did so, and I believe that they have since had a further conversation on the telephone. We encourage Russia to continue to talk bilaterally to Ukraine, but of course those talks have been damaged by the bringing down of a Ukrainian aircraft and the death of 49 people only a few days ago. That underlines the need for Russia to cease its support for illegally armed groups that are very seriously damaging the prospect of Russia and Ukraine working together.

18. Given that President Putin has acknowledged the outcome of the Ukrainian presidential elections, will the Foreign Secretary take up with his counterpart the fact that there are still weapons systems—tanks, rocket launchers and so forth—entering Ukraine that are coming from Russia?


Yes, absolutely. The arrival in Ukraine of three Russian tanks further underlines how Russia is allowing arms supplies to go to illegally armed groups in the south and east of Ukraine. Desisting from that will be fundamental to any understanding between the two countries, which it is in the interests of Russia to achieve.

Given the Gazprom decision of recent days of which the Foreign Secretary spoke a moment ago, will he set out what steps are being taken by the British Government along with our allies to continue to pressure Russia to engage more constructively with the Ukrainian Government in the light of what many will see as an aggressive and reprehensible act?

From across the European Union and from the United States pressure is being exerted on Russia to desist from supplying illegally armed groups, as I have said, and to ensure that they continue to talk to and work with President Poroshenko of Ukraine. That is a very strong message from across the western world and that work will continue, of course, over the coming weeks. We will discuss this among EU Foreign Ministers in Luxembourg on Monday and I believe that a strong and united message will come from that meeting.

19. I was a member of the OSCE who was fortunate enough to monitor that election in Ukraine. Does my right hon. Friend accept that it was a fair election in which the vast majority of those who wished to vote were able to do so and that this is an important building block to increase and enhance the stability of Ukraine so that it can move forward, so long as we can overcome the problems Russia is posing? (904261)

I thank my right hon. Friend and many other hon. Members on both sides of the House who took part in the election observation. The United Kingdom supplied a huge number of observers—10% of the total number—and these were well-conducted elections. The vast majority of Ukrainians were able to vote and they gave a clear and decisive result that should add to the stability of the country and the region.