Ukraine – Danger The West Could Get Caught Saying Strong Words And Taking No Action

Mr Peter Hain (Neath) (Lab): Given President Putin’s increasing international and domestic malevolence, is there not a danger that the west will get caught between saying strong words and taking no action on the one hand and, on the other hand, allowing Russia’s legitimate interests, such as its interest in the port of Sevastopol and its Mediterranean port, and its economic interests, to provide some spurious legitimacy for his actions? Is there not a case, therefore, for a new, more global, deal that addresses the legitimate Russian interests—although not the illegitimate ones—but protects self-determination around Russia’s border? That might provide some comfort to the President, and more importantly to the people, that NATO has limited ambitions around Russia’s border, because I think that that is part of the problem.

Mr Hague: We must be alert to the dangers to which the right hon. Gentleman correctly refers, and we must be prepared to be imaginative about long-term frameworks and solutions. We have already made the argument—I made it only a week ago to Foreign Minister Lavrov—that we recognise those Russian interests and are not seeking a zero-sum strategic game, and that there will be ways for the Russian economy, as well as the Ukrainian economy, to benefit from closer ties to the European Union. However, the response to us and other countries making that argument has been what we have seen over the past few days. That does not stop our making it, but it shows how difficult it is to construct a global deal, as the right hon. Gentleman said.