Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Ukraine-Russia Relations

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:38 pm on 27th November 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Alistair Burt Alistair Burt Minister of State (Department for International Development) (Jointly with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office), Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development) 12:38 pm, 27th November 2018

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his recognition that the Government’s basic position on international law and our response to this are correct. This recent action has come on the back of further disruption over a lengthy period. Since May 2018, Russia has conducted more than 200 stop-and-search boarding operations of civilian vessels transiting to or from the Ukrainian industrial ports of Mariupol and Berdyansk. The regularity of these boardings has increased over the summer, with Russian border guards deliberately delaying merchant vessels transiting the Kerch straits, and this activity culminated in what we saw the other day. It is important for there to be a strong and united international action.

The hon. Gentleman mentioned what he called a “worrying” response from Ukraine; I am not sure I would necessarily say that. In response to aggression from Russia, the Ukrainian Parliament has taken its own decision to impose martial law in 10 Ukrainian regions for 30 days. Bearing in mind the pressure that Ukraine is under, I should have thought that the position of this House would be strongly to support Ukrainian responses in situations of difficulty.

The United Kingdom did not secure President Poroshenko’s reassurance that martial law would not be used to restrict rights and freedoms—that decision was made absolutely by Ukrainian authorities; we did not need to secure it. I can reassure the hon. Gentleman and the House that the Ukrainian President also made the decision that elections would be unaffected on 31 March, so continued progress in relation to the democratic principles may continue.

We support the action that Ukraine has had to take in relation to this aggression, and our concern about Russia’s international position is clear, which is why we welcome the calls for de-escalation so that these matters do not get worse.