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Ukraine: Support for NATO Allies

Volume 722: debated on Monday 7 November 2022

6. What steps his Department is taking to support NATO allies in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. (902073)

The United Kingdom has provided substantial support to NATO allies. We temporarily doubled our enhanced forward presence battlegroup in Estonia, with additional enhancements to that battlegroup planned for the longer term. We deployed an aviation taskforce to Lithuania, are contributing to NATO air activity across Europe, are supporting air-to-air refuelling and have bolstered our presence in Poland, as well as Army activity in Bulgaria and Romania.

It is absolutely right that our commitments on defence spending and deployments to NATO allies change in the light of the threat posed by increased Russian aggression and the very real threat of a war on European soil. Does my right hon. Friend agree that our increased deployments show that we remain fully committed to defending every inch of NATO territory, as well as Sweden and Finland, and that that is a clear statement of intent on behalf of this country?

My hon. Friend invites me to make two points. First, one of Putin’s greatest failures of the past nine months is how he has reinvigorated the NATO alliance and restored the raison d’être of article 5. Secondly, through their work with many of our allies across the Baltic, the Nordic countries and the high north, our armed forces increasingly have environmental expertise on NATO’s northern flank. They are very much enjoying working with the Finns and the Swedes, every inch of whose territory, as they join NATO, is protected by article 5 just like everywhere else.

We saw reports at the weekend that almost one third of military accommodation is in need of repair: just shy of 14,000 homes, many with leaks and rot. The Ministry of Defence has apologised but has not yet said what it will do to fix the problem. Over half a billion pounds of taxpayers’ money is spent on contracts, subcontracts—

Order. The hon. Gentleman’s supplementary is not linked to the question. It has to be linked. I am sorry, but we have to let it go. I call the Labour Front-Bench spokesperson.

Putin’s criminal invasion of Ukraine has led many NATO members to reboot their defence plans. The Defence Secretary now agrees with Labour that the integrated review needs updating. Would it not be absurd to cut the Army any further when Ukraine and our NATO allies are facing such clear and rising hostility? Can the Minister tell us which cuts he wants to reverse? Can he tell us whether further Army cuts will finally be halted, as Labour has consistently argued for?

The integrated review is indeed being refreshed—quite rightly, because in the past nine months we have seen war in Europe and growing belligerence by China in the far east. Exactly what the shape of our nation’s armed forces must look like must be a consequence of those new threats. I am not going to rule anything in or out at the Dispatch Box today, because we need to look at what those competitions with Russia in the immediate term and China in the longer term look like, and what our armed forces therefore need to look like.