Russian Annexation of Crimea

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:30 am on 24th April 2019.

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Photo of Stewart McDonald Stewart McDonald Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Defence) 10:30 am, 24th April 2019

It is good to see you in the Chair, Mr Davies. I congratulate John Howell on securing the debate, and on his excellent speech. It was factual, considered and forensic in laying out the current situation in Crimea.

Like other hon. and right hon. Members, I congratulate President-elect Zelensky. As Mr Whittingdale mentioned, Zelensky is a Jewish national, and Ukraine becomes only the second country in the world with both a Jewish President and Jewish Prime Minister. I look forward to Sputnik news and the Russia Today headline telling us that the fascists and Nazis have just elected a Jew as their leader—no doubt such nonsense will follow. It somewhat scorches the myth that Russian speakers in Ukraine are being uniquely persecuted by the Government, given that the new President-elect is a Russian speaker and Russian is his first language.

Given that the ambassador of Ukraine joins us here today, I want to mention the appalling events that took place in Holland Park two weeks ago this coming Saturday, when the ambassador’s car—thankfully, she was not in it—was deliberately rammed more than once by someone who is currently being held under the Mental Health Acts.

I want to address a few of the issues that have been raised by hon. and right hon. Members, starting with the illegality of the referendum. The Scottish National party does not recognise the referendum that took place in 2014, and we do not recognise the status of Crimea somehow being reunified with Russia either. We know a thing or two about independence movements and referendums in my party. Indeed, Bill Grant knows a thing about them as well. What took place in Crimea in 2014 was a sham and should be called out as such by anyone who believes in the democratic rights of people to express how they wish to be governed.

Like other hon. and right hon. Members who have spoken, I have visited Ukraine on a couple of occasions. In common with the right hon. Member for Maldon, I once went out to Avdiivka. As he says, it is right on the frontline with the illegally occupied Donbass region. In that context, we need to get the terminology right. Indeed, the last time I was there, I had this discussion with a journalist. These are Russian-led forces. They are not Russian-backed separatists or forces; they are Russian-led, and they are not all separatists. Some of them wish Donbass to be independent, some wish it to join Russia, and some wish it to be more autonomous within Ukraine. They are Russian-led terrorists and nothing else.

I turn to how we can support Ukraine as individual Members of Parliament, part of which includes not appearing on channels such as Russia Today and Sputnik. Indeed, there are hon. Members who have spoken in this debate—they are no longer in their place, so I will not name them—who do exactly that. They are part of the problem. They include members of my own party, and one quite high-profile former member even has his own television show on Russia Today. For shame that they continue to appear on those channels. For shame that there are Members of this House who not only appear, but take money in return. There are also former Ministers of the current Government who appear on RT. It must stop, otherwise all the poetic speeches mean absolutely nothing.