View from the House - Ilford South MP Mike Gapes on the Ukraine crisis

Ilford South MP Mike Gapes

Ilford South MP Mike Gapes

Parliament has been discussing the crisis in Ukraine, the most serious threat to European security in decades. Crimea, historically part of Russia, was put into Soviet Ukraine 60 years ago. Following the break up of the USSR, when Russia, the USA and the UK negotiated removal of Soviet nuclear weapons from Ukraine, they agreed to recognise and guarantee Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

Russia’s incursion into Ukraine is an unprovoked, unjustifiable violation of the sovereignty and independence of Ukraine.

The UK, the European Union, the USA and the international community now need to give the interim Ukrainian government support and advice to be inclusive and protect the rights of Russian-speaking populations within Ukraine.

I asked William Hague: “Given that Russia has developed a customs union with Belarus, Kazakhstan and, suddenly and more recently, Armenia, is it not the case that despite the Foreign Secretary’s wish – he said that there was not a choice between Russia and the European Union – President Putin sees things in a different way?”

Hague replied “..we do not intend association between the Ukraine and the EU to be hostile or damaging to Russia. However anybody else may present this, we should be insistent on that point.”

The government must make clear to President Putin and to Russian oligarchs buying properties or putting their money into London banks that there will be costs and consequences if Russia does not alter its course.

It will take a combination of skilled diplomacy and unity and resolve from the international community to help stabilise the situation and step back from disaster.