GWENT politicians continued to react to a Parliamentary report yesterday calling on the UK Government to “take the lead” on Russia at September’s Nato summit in Newport.
The summit will take place at the Celtic Manor resort for two days on September 4 and 5.
Thursday’s report by the parliamentary defence committee recommended the summit set up plans to put equipment and troops in the Baltic States.
David Davies, Conservative MP for Monmouth said it was “very concerning” the committee believed the Nato states are not ready to deal with a “threat posed to Western security” by Russia.
“We’ve been reducing the amount of money we spent on our armed forces over a period of time and I think it’s time to look at this,” he said.
“We’ve budgeted to spend 0.7 per cent of GDP on foreign aid. We need to look at why some of the military budget is effectively used to provide foreign aid rather than the defence of the realm. To put it bluntly, I think there’s a case to be made for reducing the amount on foreign aid and putting it into the armed forces budget.
“The Ukraine issue in Crimea has been on the cards for years,” he said. “I was in Ukraine about five years ago with the foreign affairs select committee and it was being spoken of then. They were plenty of people who knew this was going to come. I just hope it doesn’t go any further. We will have to see how Russia responds to the latest sanctions.”
The Middle East is an even bigger concern, said the MP.
“Gaza and Ukraine are in the news but Syria and Iraq are just as important,” said Mr Davies. “That’s a huge issue for us. Sunni fundamentalists are the most dangerous threat to our existence at the moment, not Muslims or Islam, but fundamentalists, over the next few decades.”
Chris Evans, Labour MP for Islwyn seemed to agree with the view of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) who accused the report of ramping up tensions in the region.
“While the terrible atrocities in the Ukraine have sharpened the West’s focus on Russia of late, we must remember that any threat of war with Russia is miniscule,” he said.
“Rather than ramp up tensions, I would like to see Nato discuss ways of improving dialogue with the Russians. No one wants to see a return to the Cold War.”
William Graham, Conservative AM for South Wales East said he was aware of the view that Nato has been too complacent about the threat from Russia, but said sanctions against Russia could work.
“It is true that Russia’s tactics have changed,” he said.
“However, there is growing evidence that the impact of the sanctions imposed by the EU and USA upon Russian businesses and their economy will enforce change.
“The Newport conference will provide an opportunity for Nato leaders to demonstrate their unity with regard to Russia.”