Dr Julian Lewis: May I ask my right hon. Friend about this distinction between defensive and offensive weaponry? The fact is that when a friendly nation finds itself under attack, all the weaponry with which we supply it is defensive. I should have thought that if we cannot intervene ourselves – and there are good reasons why we cannot – there is no reason at all why we cannot help the Ukrainians with their airspace problem by facilitating the necessary aircraft deliveries which they have requested.
[The Minister for Europe and North America (James Cleverly): My right hon. Friend has made an important point about munitions systems being inherently defensive when a country is under attack. He has also made an important point about airspace management, and I will come to that later in my speech. I intend to make some progress now.]
Dr Lewis: Could I urge colleagues on both sides of the House not to bring the Syria vote into this dispute? The Syria vote hinged on the fact that it was proposed to depose another Arab dictator without regard to the nature of the extremists who would have taken over. We did exactly that sort of thing when we armed all sorts of groups in Afghanistan, and that did not work out too well for America either. This is a separate issue and we should not confuse the two.
[Mr David Lammy: The Chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee gives the right context of the debate, as I remember it, at that time.
Ukrainians have defended their homeland with extraordinary courage and determination, and Russian forces, fed a diet of propaganda by their Government, may have expected to be greeted as liberators but have instead encountered dogged and skilful resistance from the Ukrainian army. Putin’s hopes for a brief campaign have crashed against the rocks of Ukrainian defiance. ...]
Dr Lewis: Does my right hon. Friend agree that Mr Putin’s claim that he is worried about having a NATO country directly on his border if Ukraine joins NATO is rather given the lie by the fact that if he occupies Ukraine, he will have several NATO countries on his border?
[Alec Shelbrooke: I am most grateful to my right hon. Friend for that, because he touches on something very important. The drive to NATO membership accelerated substantially after Russia had invaded Crimea. ...]
[For Julian's speech in this debate click here]