House of Commons' intervention on Russia's anti-NATO line

Press Release

22 February 2010
Russia Urged To Press Its own Reset Button with Nato

Denis MacShane MP, former FCO Minister and UK delegate to the Nato Parliamentary Assembly has urged Russia to press its own reset button and lower tension with Nato members.

MacShane made his appeal in the House of Commons (22 February 2010) after declarations from Moscow that the Kremlin’s new military doctrine saw Nato as Russia’s principal opponent.
UK defence secretary, Bon Ainsworth, also called for a “reappraisal by Russia of its attitude to Nato” and said there was “no reason for the Russian to adopt their (anti-Nato) line. He urged the Russian to soften their position.
The Labour MP who specialises in foreign and security questions also called for less military confrontation and more political-diplomatic containment in Afghanistan.

Please see below extracts from MacShane’s comments and exchanges with Defence Secretary, Bob Ainsworth, in the Commons.

Mr Denis MacShane (Rotherham) (Lab): At the Munich security conference the other week, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said that Russian military doctrine now saw NATO as its principal foe. Does the Secretary of State agree that it is time that Moscow pressed its own reset button and started to work with us as allies and partners, rather than future enemies?

Mr Ainsworth: We would welcome a reappraisal by Russia of its attitude towards NATO. There is no reason for the Russians to adopt the line that they have, and any reappraisal or softening of their position with regard to what they perceive as the threat would be most welcome and beneficial to themselves as well.

Mr Denis MacShane (Rotherham) (Lab): My hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) is wrong: the Dutch Government have taken no decision on Afghanistan; they have simply collapsed on account of Afghanistan. Does that not send out a slight warning signal that we perhaps need a little less military confrontation, with all its collateral damage that does so much harm to our good name in Afghanistan, and much more political and diplomatic containment?

Mr Ainsworth: We need political progress in Afghanistan, which is vital, and we need to deliver it through the Afghan Government. However, the last thing that we want is to provide anything other than reintegration, reconciliation and political progress, but we will not achieve it from a position of weakness. The Afghan Government still depend on ISAF for their basic position, and they will do so for some time while we grow the capability of the Afghan national army and the Afghan national police. Of course we should emphasise the political and development side of these operations, as they are vital at the end of the day.