Defence continues to play a central role in helping Ukraine to defend its territorial integrity, working with allies and partners to uphold international law. We are also providing lethal and non-lethal military aid to meet the Ukrainian armed forces’ requests for assistance and co-ordinating the provision of additional military support from our allies and partners to enable Ukraine to repel Russian aggression.
The UK Government’s preparation for this war evidently anticipated a quick lightning strike on Kyiv by Putin’s forces, followed by attempted regime change, rather than military resource allocation for a protracted ground war crisis. Why was this the case? What lessons, if any, have been learned?
I think there are two points to make to that. First, the UK Government were able to anticipate what has happened because our intelligence services did an extraordinary job in understanding what the threat was, and our alliances with other intelligence services around the world worked brilliantly. That is a useful correction to 20 years of doubting intelligence when making decisions in this place, because our intelligence services remain among the best in the world. To the hon. Gentleman’s question about whether the right or wrong kit was given, I think that, absent any decision a decade ago to begin Ukraine’s transition to NATO-calibre weapons systems, which would have been an overt step on the way to Ukrainian NATO membership—we can discuss whether or not that is a good thing—the right thing to do in those circumstances was to grab stuff that was on the shelf and available to be brought to bear immediately in the defence of Ukraine. That is exactly what we did.