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Ukraine: Military Response to Russian Invasion

Volume 722: debated on Monday 7 November 2022

13. What assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of the Ukrainian military response to Russia’s invasion. (902080)

We work closely with international partners and Ukraine to ensure that Ukraine receives the right equipment at the right time. Meetings such as those of the Ukraine defence contact group and the international defence co-ordination centre help to prioritise and co-ordinate efforts. The UK and international partners also train Ukrainian recruits in the UK, and we receive regular feedback from the armed forces in Ukraine that allows us to tailor courses to best meet requirements.

The whole House will have been moved by the heroic bravery of the tens of thousands of Ukrainians who have stepped up to defend their homeland, but they will need the right kit to defeat the Russians. I know that the supply of western weapons has been plentiful, but can my right hon. Friend confirm that the UK is working closely with our NATO allies and the Ukrainians to ensure that the training and equipment received is as useful as possible?

Almost within days of the invasion, I convened a donor conference. At the first conference we had nearly 30 nations, and three conferences later, when the United States chaired it in Germany, we had more than 50 nations. We constantly work on that co-ordination and we have set up the international donor co-ordination cell, which is well populated by United Kingdom forces, to make sure that we get the right equipment to the right people in time.

Does our ability to resupply the Ukrainians not depend on our having a robust defence industry? Does that not depend on both facilities and skilled manpower? And does that not depend on orders being placed in this country? Does this not absolutely demonstrate the folly of the Secretary of State’s proposal to offshore the purchase of the fleet solid support ships to Spanish shipyards?

The right hon. Gentleman never answered the question that I put to him at the Defence Committee. As he says, surely the most important thing is that whoever bids for these contracts commits to investing in skills in Britain. If they do not invest in skills, what is the point of awarding the contract? When I asked him whether he would choose someone who invested in skills, there was no answer from him. This is classic union-paid claptrap.