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Part of European Union (Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:37 pm on 20th June 2018.

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Photo of Carol Monaghan Carol Monaghan Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Armed Forces and Veterans), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Education) 6:37 pm, 20th June 2018

We have heard already this afternoon that Russian activity in the high north and the Black sea has reached levels not seen since the cold war. The NATO summit must be used to discuss and strengthen the alliance’s maritime strategy. The Russian activity off Scotland’s west coast is now at critical level. Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach has warned that British anti-submarine capability has been seriously neglected due to underfunding. The scrapping of the Nimrod fleet in 2010 has left us unable to react to the emerging Russian threat. We must ensure that we, as a NATO member, remain agile enough to respond to future threats, wherever and whatever they may be.

I was in Romania recently as part of a parliamentary delegation, and concerns were raised repeatedly about Russian activity in the Black sea. The annexation of Crimea has given Russia a launch platform in the Black sea, which has already enabled it to intensify air and sea activities in the area. That, of course, is also a threat to oil and gas pipelines.

Romania is grateful that the UK has sent Typhoons to the Black sea as part of the NATO mission, but Russia continues to flex its muscles in the Ukraine and northern Moldova. It courts NATO members in the Balkans and Turkey, and floods other eastern European countries with propaganda.

Romania is pressing for the Black sea to be a specific agenda item at the summit. That, however, has been repeatedly blocked by Turkey—a NATO member that is getting far too close to Russia. I urge the Secretary of State to support Romania’s calls for a frank discussion of the Black sea at the summit.

Finally, I echo the comments from the hon. Members for Wakefield (Mary Creagh) and for Gedling (Vernon Coaker). Many Members have viewed with horror the pictures of children who have been cruelly ripped from their parents’ arms. Their cries and distress will be hard for us to forget, and this pernicious policy has no place anywhere in the world. I urge the Secretary of State to use any influence he has as a fellow NATO member to send a clear message to President Trump that his actions are not endorsed by the Bible, that we in the UK unequivocally condemn them and that children should never be used as pawns in a political game.