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Ukraine: International Support

Volume 716: debated on Tuesday 21 June 2022

5. What recent discussions she has had with her international counterparts on support for Ukraine. (900623)

It is vital that we continue to back Ukraine. This is about freedom and democracy in Ukraine, and it is also about freedom and democracy in Europe and across the world. That is why we are determined to provide more weapons, impose more sanctions and back Ukraine in pushing Russia out of its territory.

I am pleased that my right hon. Friend mentioned sanctions. Last week she announced a new wave of sanctions, including against Patriarch Kirill, a very public and vocal supporter of Putin’s war. Can she confirm that we will continue to put pressure not just on Putin but on his supporters until Putin fails and Ukraine succeeds?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I am proud that the United Kingdom has sanctioned more individuals than any other nation. We have to keep increasing that pressure. Last week we sanctioned Patriarch Kirill, and we also sanctioned the Russian children’s rights commissioner, who has been involved in the barbaric treatment of Ukrainian children. We will continue to impose sanctions and to stop importing goods from Russia until we see Russia fully withdraw from Ukraine.

The new head of the Army was very clear this week when he said that the UK must be

“capable of fighting alongside our allies and defeating Russia in battle.”

Does the Foreign Secretary believe that our defence capability, which is a key arm of UK foreign policy, has all the resources it needs to do that?

It is very true that we face a much more insecure Europe and a much more insecure world, and it is right that we are increasing defence spending. We are increasing our capabilities, particularly in areas such as cyber, but we are also making sure that we have fully trained and efficient armed services, not just to be ready but to ensure that we are training up Ukrainians, for example, and helping our allies, particularly on the eastern flank, who face that direct threat from Russia.

The harvest in Ukraine is going to have to start in the next few weeks. The problem is that there are 25 million tonnes of old crop filling up all the stores, so there will be nowhere to put the new crop. It will have to be piled on the fields, and the Russians will seize it and use it as a weapon of war to buy influence around the world. What more can my right hon. Friend do to ensure that there is international passage for that grain out of Odesa and other ports?

We are doing all we can to secure the export of that very important grain from Ukraine. My hon. Friend is right to say that we have only a number of weeks to be able to achieve that. We are backing the UN plan, but we are also doing what we can with our allies to provide safe passage and to make sure that Odesa is fully defended. Tomorrow, I will be travelling to Turkey to talk to people there about how we could do more to get the grain out of Odesa.

Part of any diplomatic support for Ukraine must include a strategic diplomatic support package for Ukraine’s neighbours in Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. When I spoke to the Polish Defence Secretary a couple of months ago, he detailed what he felt was a very lonely station on the frontline beside Ukraine. Will the Foreign Secretary update us on how he may not feel that way now?

We are working very closely with Poland on our joint defence support, and we are working with Poland and Ukraine on helping Ukraine get NATO-standard weapons. We are also backing Poland, our Baltic state friends and others, including Moldova, particularly through NATO and the bolstering of the eastern flank. We have the NATO summit coming up next week and the UK is pushing hard for more support in the eastern area of Europe.