Ukraine: UK and NATO Military Commitment

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:40 pm on 20th June 2022.

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Photo of Leo Docherty Leo Docherty Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence) 3:40 pm, 20th June 2022

I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman’s questions. The lessons are manifold. One in particular is the vulnerability of armour without significant covering fire and deep fires, and what happens when a combined arms manoeuvre falls apart, particularly due to a complete failure of the moral component. He is attempting to spin that into a lesson purely about numbers of infantry. I draw his attention to the necessity of infantry having protection, mobility and its own fire to protect itself. Anyone of my generation of people in the military will remember deploying unprotected vehicles without a significant ability to manoeuvre and bring on deep fires, especially in a remote way. Those capabilities—the ability for our infantry to be much better protected, more mobile and more lethal—are exactly what we are delivering with the integrated review and the defence Command Paper, and that is a job of work worth doing.

The hon. Gentleman mentioned Ajax. The House will be interested to know that we are looking at it with urgent focus, and I am sure that the Minister for Defence Procurement will update the House in due course.

The hon. Gentleman made an interesting point about Turkey and the critical, strategic import of the Black sea with regard to grain exports out of Ukraine, with some 50% being stuck there. I will not speculate about the role of the magnificent Royal Navy or anyone else in the British military, but undoubtedly that will be on the agenda at the NATO summit in Madrid next week.