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Nato

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:58 pm on 20th June 2018.

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Photo of Mark Francois Mark Francois Conservative, Rayleigh and Wickford 5:58 pm, 20th June 2018

For the record, they are both great movies.

It is a pleasure to follow Mrs Moon. She always speaks on these matters with great common sense, and her speech this afternoon is no exception.

In March 2018, the Defence Committee paid a visit to the United States of America, as part of which we held meetings in the Pentagon and the State Department, with some of our opposite numbers on the House Armed Services Committee and with the staff of the Senate Armed Services Committee, too. During our visit we experienced a great deal of American interest in what one might call the “Baltic states scenario.” Many of our interlocutors placed a strong emphasis on the readiness of US, European and NATO forces to respond to potential aggression against the Baltic states from a resurgent Russia. That raises the question: what might an assault on the Baltics look like? The Russian annexation of Crimea and de facto invasion of parts of eastern Ukraine provide at least some pointers towards what we might expect to see in the event of Russian adventurism and an attempt to intervene in the Baltics. If that were to come to pass, we could expect to see multiple elements of so-called “hybrid warfare” employed by Russia.

To begin with, any such assault might contain an element of maskirovka—strategic deception—perhaps by seeking to draw NATO’s attention away from the area prior to intervention, for instance, by creating a crisis in the Balkans. That might well be accompanied by the agitation of Russian minorities in the three Baltic states, where they represent approximately a quarter of the Latvian population, a quarter of the Estonian population and an eighth of the Lithuanian population respectively.