Ukraine – We Are Getting No Where With Our Approach To Russia

Mr Peter Hain (Neath) (Lab): I agree with the Foreign Secretary’s statement and with the thoughtful response from my right hon. Friend the Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire South (Mr Alexander). The puzzle surely is this. On one reading, Russia is acting with a kind of irrational belligerence and aggression, given that it is inviting the retaliation that the Foreign Secretary has explained, which will be intensified, so what is Russia really after? Will the right hon. Gentleman share his assessment? Could we pursue an alternative strategy, because it does not seem to me that we are getting anywhere with this approach? Russia is not getting anywhere—it is suffering economically—and we are not getting anywhere.

Mr Hague: I believe that Russia’s actions in Crimea, and now in eastern Ukraine, are a response to the unexpected and rapid fall of President Yanukovych and his Government, which was understood in the world—and indeed in Russia—to be a major reversal for Russian foreign policy. The long-term consequences of that response have not necessarily been thought through. Russia has acted to restore some of what it might think of as its prestige internationally or domestically, and therefore taken these actions. There is an alternative approach—the one agreed in Geneva only 11 days ago, with Russia’s Foreign Minister present—which is for all concerned to de-escalate tensions while the Ukrainian Government pursue constitutional reform, including decentralisation to the regions of Ukraine. That is the alternative model.