Does the Minister agree that the relationship with Russia seems to have moved on to a new and better footing recently, but that there is much scope for co-operation, not least in restructuring the Russian armed forces, which is much appreciated by Russia? Does he agree that it is in Russia's interest for its neighbours to be democratic, prosperous and members of NATO, and that the present preoccupation with terrorist concerns should not delay the expansion of NATO, but rather that it should be the basis of a new initiative?
Yes, I agree wholeheartedly with the hon. Gentleman. There has been a sea change in relationships between NATO and Russia since
Does the Minister agree that the events post-
Yes, that is why we are engaging in the dialogue. My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Long before
Will the Foreign Secretary raise with the Russian Government recent events in Abkhazia? Will he especially point out that, although armed conflicts on the Russian borders, particularly involving Chechens, as such events apparently did, are deeply unwelcome, a repressive response from Russia would be equally unwelcome and might cause a serious conflagration across the Caucasus and trans-Caucasus?
My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary tells me that he will be happy to raise that matter when he goes to Moscow tomorrow. We are well aware of the problems that Russia has to face in Chechnya. We talk to the Russians at every opportunity about human rights, but we recognise that they have a legitimate right to protect their citizens against a terrorist threat which we know is linked to Osama bin Laden.