A NEWPORT MP has welcomed a report calling on the UK Government to “take the lead” on addressing threats from Russia at September’s Nato summit, saying it broadly matches an Early Day Motion he put before Parliament.
The report by the House of Commons defence committee, published yesterday says the Russian annexation of Crimea and the continuing violence in Ukraine “has been a stark reminder of Nato’s responsibilities in Europe”.
“There is no doubt that Eastern European nations feel that the threat is very real,” says the report, concluding that Nato as a whole is poorly prepared in the unlikely event of an attack.
“The Nato summit in Newport in September must ensure it addresses the threat from Russia.”
The summit will take place at Newport’s Celtic Manor on September 4 and 5 and will be accompanied by a week-long counter-summit organised by protestors in Newport and Cardiff.
Earlier this month, Paul Flynn MP asked in Parliament: “Will the Prime Minister use the Newport Nato summit to galvanise the new-found unity of Nato states, to act strongly against the belligerence of Putin?” Prime Minister David Cameron responded that the opportunity to demonstrate the unity of Nato and its collective security “could not have come at a better time”. The Newport MP was this week un-invited from speaking at the counter-summit for his pro-Nato stance, a move he described as “a great shame”.
“It’s not a rational decision and I certainly won’t be told what to say,” said Mr Flynn. “They are narrowing their case. People feel angry about what’s happening in Gaza and the Ukraine, there isn’t any great anger against Nato.
“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.”
Yesterday’s report by the cross-party group said attacks on Ukraine had “raised the possibility, however unlikely, of an attack...on a Nato member state in the Baltics.
The group recommended September’s summit should set up plans to put equipment and troops in the Baltic States.
Meanwhile, David Davies MP for Monmouth said that Britain should spend more on defence to deal with threats from Russia and "Islamic fundamentalists".
His comments came after the report by the House of Commons defence committee
He said: “It’s very concerning that the committee believe we 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.
“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. 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,” he said. “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.”