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European Security

Volume 710: debated on Tuesday 8 March 2022

The UK is working closely with our G7 partners to make clear our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and that we will not accept Russia’s campaign to subvert its democratic neighbours. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary is working extensively with her G7 counterparts, and met with them in Brussels on 4 March to co-ordinate our response to Russian aggression, including robust economic measures and financial sanctions.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the situation in Ukraine matters not just for European security, but for the whole world, and therefore we need a global response? Our global allies must join us in taking a tough stance on sanctions and strongly supporting the people of Ukraine. This attack on a democratic nation may have taken place on our continent, but it has significant global implications.

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary discussed our potential sanctions response with G7 partners in Liverpool late last year, and he is absolutely right that the eyes of the world are watching our response on this, and the message we must send is clear: that the G7 and the wider international community, including countries in the far east, many miles from this conflict, are resolute in standing up against this kind of aggressive behaviour, and we will maintain that position.

I welcome what the Minister has said about co-ordination with the G7 on Ukraine, but does he agree that Putin seeks to create instability and insecurity elsewhere in Europe at the same time, including in the western Balkans, Moldova and the Caucasus. Can he tell us what he has been doing with G7 counterparts and our partners in the EU to address those attempts to create instability across the rest of Europe?

The Prime Minister and my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary met the Prime Ministers and representatives of the western Balkans just last week. The hon. Member is absolutely right that we must not allow the situation in Ukraine to have a destabilising effect on other parts of the continent or, as my hon. Friend the Member for Harrogate and Knaresborough (Andrew Jones) said, other parts of the world. We will continue our close engagement with partners in the region and beyond to ensure that we deal with the situation in Ukraine and do not allow it to have a destabilising effect more broadly.

Now that the world has woken up to the reality of the cold-hearted ruthlessness of Putin’s police state, does the Minister agree that the most important thing that members of the G7 that are also members of NATO can do to secure European security is to raise their defence budgets to levels that we used to spend when faced with this sort of confrontational approach from Russia?

My right hon. Friend makes an incredibly important point. The UK is rightly proud of the fact that we have consistently met out 2% of GDP target for NATO expenditure. We warmly welcome the recent commitment of the German Government in what is a politically bold and incredibly important move to increase their defence spending. This situation in Ukraine is a reminder that peace comes at a price, and we have to be willing to pay that price to maintain peace.