Russian Annexation of Crimea

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:30 am on 24th April 2019.

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Photo of John Howell John Howell Conservative, Henley 9:30 am, 24th April 2019

The hon. Lady makes a valid point. I do not underestimate the effect of Russian cyber-attacks not only on Ukraine, but on the whole of Europe. I am not sure what we can do about them, except to make sure that we are strong in resisting them. She has highlighted the key point: that the issue affects all of us. Once an attack has been launched on Ukraine, it can affect the rest of Europe.

What are we to make of the actions of the Council of Europe, which has now produced a motion that makes it easier for Russia to return by not having the credentials of its members challenged? The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has not suspended Russia; the decision was taken by Russia in 2015 not to present credentials for its own delegation in response to voting restrictions placed on it by PACE following the illegal annexation of Crimea.

The UK is clear that a Russian return to PACE would be contingent on the withdrawal of all Russian military personnel and support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, as well as an end to the illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula. I urge the Minister to reject or at least heavily modify the recent recommendation from PACE, which is coming his way as part of the Committee of Ministers and which liberalises the PACE approach.