Ukraine: Defence Relationships

Lord Craig of Radley Excerpts
Thursday 9th June 2022

(4 weeks ago)

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Lord Craig of Radley Portrait Lord Craig of Radley (CB)
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My Lords, I too join noble Lords in congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Liddle, on obtaining this debate and on the robust way in which he introduced it.

In previous debates on Ukraine, I raised the issue of sanctions and in particular, what assessment the Government have made of their effect on Russia and on Putin. In answer to my question on this on Tuesday the Minister said that they

“have had an inhibiting effect in relation to Mr Putin’s ability to mobilise his forces.”—[Official Report, 7/6/22; col. 1078.]

I doubt that Ukrainians defending the Donbass would agree.

Historically, sanctions imposition has often been a political response to a “do something” cry falling short of war. A most significant distinction between all other sanctioned countries and those against Russia is that the former could be dealt with by Theodore Roosevelt’s diplomatic truism,

“Speak softly and carry a big stick”,


but Russia, unlike all others, also has a big stick.

Viewed from the Russian side, this is the second time that they have been sanctioned in the past decade. American sanctions following the annexation of Crimea in 2014 were aimed to make Russia a pariah state. Should sanctions become an existential threat to Russia itself, the risks of their response, being a nuclear power, cannot be downplayed or ignored.

As the noble Lord, Lord Skidelsky, argued in his recent excellent essay on this topic:

“Economic sanctions against Russia are supposed to be an alternative to war, but they can reasonably be expected to change the Kremlin’s behaviour only by becoming tactical components of the conflict.”


Ukraine’s supporters do not intend to make or threaten war themselves directly against Russia, but without such, the true value of sanctions becomes unclear. As the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee report in May 2007 on The Impact of Economic Sanctions concluded:

“Economic sanctions used in isolation from other policy instruments are extremely unlikely to force a target to make major policy changes.”


Foremost among “other policy instruments” listed was the threat or actual use of force.

The assessments the Government have made do not show, even after 100 days of conflict, any great reduction in Russia’s war-fighting capability. Bearing in mind that some nations are still trading actively with Russia and many European countries are still paying Russia for oil and gas—no doubt with pricing increases—are the sanctions achieving the result required of a major change in Russia’s “special operation”? Not yet, and do not hold your breath.

Imposing sanctions is not a zero-sum game. Individuals and businesses that are no longer able to trade with Russia will not necessarily be able to make good in other markets what they were achieving in Russia. They will suffer losses, which will increase with time. The financial and banking sanctions sound severe, but workarounds are already evident. The rouble is trading near its pre-war rate. Rising oil and gas prices have increased the cost of living for all here in the UK.

More needs to be said publicly to explain what sanctions achieve. Russia’s combat forces remain active, even if their tactics are less than competent. So where does the balance of advantage lie? Should even more sanctions be imposed, with the attendant risks if Russia feels itself threatened, or has a limit been reached?

What plan, even thought, has been given to an exit strategy? No sanctions can be indefinite. As long ago as 1999, a government review of sanctions policy stressed the principle:

“Sanctions should … have clear objectives, including well-defined and realistic demands against which compliance can be judged, and a clear exit strategy”.


The present sanctions targeting falls far short of such a principle, which, as well as anti-corruption and Magnitsky ones, should have greater exposure in an integrated review.

Looking to the future, when some settlement has been achieved and peace restored—I have little confidence that this will be very soon—what support can be given to the inevitable restructuring needs in Ukraine? Can assets impounded from individuals or Russian banks and businesses be switched to benefit the restoration funds that will be required? Is that going to need legislation, and would that be internationally legal? What steps have the Government in mind or are they taking to study and to implement these post-conflict needs?

Ukraine: International Conference

Lord Craig of Radley Excerpts
Tuesday 7th June 2022

(1 month ago)

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Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Portrait Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (Con)
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My Lords, the UK position has not changed. We have been providing support continuously since the beginning of this grim episode. I think it is true to say that we are the second largest contributor of military equipment and the second largest supporter of Ukraine through humanitarian efforts. We have always maintained that, although it is for Ukraine to determine the final settlement, arrangements or agreement, if such an agreement is reached with Russia, our support is unambiguously with Ukraine.

Lord Craig of Radley Portrait Lord Craig of Radley (CB)
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My Lords, the Minister mentioned sanctions. What assessment have the Government made of the effectiveness of the sanctions so far imposed, and will they continue to be imposed even if there is a ceasefire?

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Portrait Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (Con)
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On the second point, I am afraid I cannot answer; it is not for me to discuss future policy in relation to sanctions. However, there have been a number of assessments of the effect of the sanctions. We believe that the sanctions have had an inhibiting effect in relation to Mr Putin’s ability to mobilise his forces. For example, several weapons manufacturers have had to suspend their activity as a result of lack of access to parts, and defence company capabilities have been restricted, limiting Russia’s ability to replace advanced tech, including drones. Russia’s domestic vehicle sales have dropped by around 80%, partly due to lack of components. It is also forecast that Russia’s GDP is shrinking by anything between 8% and 15% this year, with the IMF expecting its economy to shrink further next year. As I said, it is not appropriate to speculate on specific future designations as that would undermine their impact, but there is no doubt that the sanctions are having an effect.

Queen’s Speech

Lord Craig of Radley Excerpts
Wednesday 18th May 2022

(1 month, 2 weeks ago)

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Lord Craig of Radley Portrait Lord Craig of Radley (CB)
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My Lords, it is timely to make some assessment of what has been happening in Ukraine. Where may it lead?

The starkest aspect is the intensive and brutal scale of combat. Large numbers of bombs, missiles, rockets and other ammunitions have been used on both sides. Much equipment lies destroyed beyond recovery. Unless these rates much reduce, it will be possible for Ukraine to keep fighting strongly only if allies and defence industries can keep up and replenish stocks as quickly as they are used up.

The Minister stressed that the UK would keep up its supplies, so are steps necessary to put relevant defence industries on a war footing or extra shifts? More than fine promises are required. Our national defence needs must also not be neglected. What information is available to assess whether Russia will sustain its current efforts and, if so, for how long? It must keep enough to repel a NATO attack which it says it fears. Sadly, protracted conflict seems unavoidable.

In a recent debate on a Ukraine Statement, I asked whether the Government had made any assessment of the impact that economic and other sanctions might be having on the Russian war effort. This question applies even more to the effect of all these sanctions, both economically and politically, on Russia. Sanctions do not seem to have deterred or deflected Putin from combat, or from his determination to claim some substantial victory over Ukraine.

Germany and other European states still see it necessary to draw extensively on Russian oil and gas to keep their own economies going. Eliminating this dependency will take time. Russia also had $600 billion of reserves to prosecute the war and overcome the effects of sanctions. The dollar/rouble exchange rate, which halved for a short while when Russia invaded, is now back to where it was before 24 February. The overall Russian position does not seem immediately perilous.

Putin was asserting only last week that sanctions were not working—well, he would, wouldn’t he? But sanctions are not a zero-sum game, as Putin also pointed out. They will have detrimental effects on UK nationals and their businesses. Other sanctions impact on the wider public, with very unwelcome increases in the prices of fuel and electricity, maybe on inflation too.

There needs to be some form of strategic assessment of all these conflicting issues. Where does the balance of advantage lie? When there is some form of ceasefire, what easements of sanctions should be made or should seized assets be put into a great Ukrainian recovery fund? Would that be legal, or is new law required to do so? How soon could such law be enacted?

In all of this, it is vital to keep public support on side. Sanctions must be explained for their effectiveness; why, as necessary, they must be continued; and how they can help Ukraine after the conflict ends. Is this at the forefront of government thinking, their policy and pronouncements? I look for some reassurance that it is.

Russia: Sanctions

Lord Craig of Radley Excerpts
Thursday 3rd March 2022

(4 months ago)

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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I assure the noble Lord that we are working to ensure that we respond effectively to Ukraine. I know that the noble Lord has been very supportive of the package we announced in support of humanitarian assistance. Equally, we are very conscious of our obligations in other parts of the world. Your Lordships’ House has been through challenging circumstances on Afghanistan. We know about the continuing conflicts in places such as Yemen, and the issue with the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar and Bangladesh. I assure the noble Lord that we are very much focused on ensuring that our response to these issues is equally robust.

Lord Craig of Radley Portrait Lord Craig of Radley (CB)
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My Lords, in addition to economic sanctions, what scope is there now for more diplomatic sanctions during this terrible situation? For example, after the Salisbury event, considerable diplomatic sanctions were imposed.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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I am sure that the noble and gallant Lord will appreciate that I will not go into specifics on what steps we are taking next. I assure the noble and gallant Lord, as my right honour friend the Foreign Secretary has said, that all options are very much on the table on how we can further pressure Russia to do the right thing. If it pulls back from Ukraine, talks can begin. All credit goes to the Ukrainians who are engaging in this initiative on the Belarus border. At the same time, Russia is, as I said yesterday, holding a trigger to the head of the Ukrainians and claiming that they believe diplomacy to be the route forward.

Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy

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Thursday 22nd April 2021

(1 year, 2 months ago)

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Lord Craig of Radley Portrait Lord Craig of Radley (CB)
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My Lords, recent thinking and experience points to a growing third part to our defence and security, that which lies between active overseas participation and defensive preparation: the grey zone of hostile acts that fall short of open warfare but which are nevertheless profoundly troublesome and which must be countered in that grey zone.

One aspect of this has been the setting up of the National Cyber Force as an offensive unit. This introduces a new doctrine of offensive actions as well as, and apart from, the traditional role of intelligence gathering in all its methods, from SIGINT to HUMINT. I have raised this topic before, and the noble Baroness, Lady Goldie, kindly wrote to me to explain the new arrangement for control of the National Cyber Force. She said that the National Cyber Force commander

“will report to both Defence and GCHQ. The first Commander of the National Cyber Force is currently a civilian employee of GCHQ. They are not being named as, while National Cyber Force is publicly avowed, it is not public facing.”

There seems to be a distinct lack of a clear chain of command in this response. Perhaps that is not so surprising, since the new force is yet to bring together and blend what were clearly distinct areas of responsibility for two different Secretaries of State.

Nevertheless, a committee-type structure to run or oversee live operations, with all their potential hazards, is a recipe for mismanagement and divided, unclear responsibility. That is not satisfactory. While I recognise that we are at the early stages of setting up this new force, I was and still am concerned about the chain of command and responsibilities of the two Secretaries of State involved. It might at first blush be reasonable to assume that the offensive use employed is directly either a defence or a Security Service action. But if it is not already—very soon in cyber strategy terms—such a distinction will become blurred or non-existent.

While the examples quoted by the Government for offensive cyber action are clear-cut, there could, as capabilities mature, be abilities to disrupt national infrastructures, for example. While the possible targets should and must remain secret, the legal, human rights, ethical and political considerations cannot be ignored. Will the Intelligence and Security Committee be given an overwatch role on offensive cyber force operations? There is surely such a role for Parliament, and this should be clear from the outset.

Hong Kong: Democracy Movement

Lord Craig of Radley Excerpts
Monday 8th March 2021

(1 year, 4 months ago)

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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I agree entirely with the noble Lord’s first point. We continue to engage with China on a raft of different issues, including the environment and climate change. However, it is important that the statements of trust which are made by the Chinese authorities are ones that can stand scrutiny. From what we have seen in Hong Kong, that is not the case.

Lord Craig of Radley Portrait Lord Craig of Radley (CB) [V]
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My Lords, those Hong Kongers who hold BNO status and are veterans of Her Majesty’s Hong Kong Military Service Corps have long pressed for grant of full British citizenship, which was given to a large number of their colleagues before 1997. Does the Minister agree that in view of the current developments, the time is right for their applications to be decided, having been under active consideration by the Government for over six years?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, I pay tribute to the focus of the noble and gallant Lord on this campaign, which he has again drawn to the attention of your Lordships’ House and the Government. As we look at BNO status and its application, I will certainly take back once again the long-standing position on this issue of the noble and gallant Lord and I will write to him.

Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy

Lord Craig of Radley Excerpts
Tuesday 3rd November 2020

(1 year, 8 months ago)

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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Noble Lords have ample opportunity, as do Members in the other place, to question and challenge the Government, whether in defence, development or diplomacy, and that will continue.

Lord Craig of Radley Portrait Lord Craig of Radley (CB) [V]
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My Lords, does the Minister agree that a nuclear deterrent lacks credibility unless it is underpinned by capable, modern, conventional capabilities? If so, does he agree that the current resilience and fighting strength of the three services is less than adequate and must be improved rapidly as part of this review?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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I agree with the noble Lord’s first point. However, I have already alluded to our increased budget in defence spending, which underlines the importance and priority that Her Majesty’s Government attach to our defence capabilities.

Hong Kong: Political Situation

Lord Craig of Radley Excerpts
Tuesday 29th September 2020

(1 year, 9 months ago)

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, the UK has already suspended the extradition treaty with Hong Kong and applies the same rules to China. On Magnitsky sanctions, as I have said before, I will not speculate on future sanctions.

Lord Craig of Radley Portrait Lord Craig of Radley (CB) [V]
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My Lords, how many of the 2.9 million BNO passport holders have responded to the offer of an immigration visa? Have the Government reached a decision on the Hong Kong Military Service Corps veterans’ appeal to be granted full British citizen passports, which was first raised six years ago, or replied to the 64 individual veterans’ applications sent to the Home Secretary in March?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, on the first question, this is an ongoing process. I do not have a specific figure, nor do I think it would serve a specific purpose. The scheme is open to all 2.9 million and we will continue to support any applications. On the point about former military personnel, as the noble and gallant Lord knows, a proportion of the Hong Kong Military Service Corps hold British dependent territory citizen status. That now translates to BNO status. On his wider point about those who remain, officials continue to have discussions with Home Office colleagues.

Hong Kong

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Tuesday 21st July 2020

(1 year, 11 months ago)

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon [V]
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My Lords, I assure my noble friend that we are working in that context with all our partners in the G7 and at the UN. We are also working with Commonwealth nations such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada, which are supportive of the UK Government’s position.

Lord Craig of Radley Portrait Lord Craig of Radley (CB) [V]
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My Lords, will the loyal veterans of Her Majesty’s Hong Kong Military Service Corps still living in Hong Kong, who have long petitioned Her Majesty’s Government for the right of abode in the UK, be granted this now? Will their request for full British passports, which all other members of the corps retained before 1997, be agreed, in line with the statutory provision for fairness in the military covenant?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon [V]
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My Lords, the noble and gallant Lord has raised this issue consistently and regularly both with me and with my noble friend the Minister of State at the Home Office. Since our last exchange, I have written to the Home Office and I am awaiting a reply. When I receive one, I will update the noble and gallant Lord accordingly.

Hong Kong National Security Legislation

Lord Craig of Radley Excerpts
Thursday 2nd July 2020

(2 years ago)

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
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My noble friend is quite right to raise this issue. We continue to work through the UN Security Council, where, as she may know, this issue was specifically discussed in May. As I have already alluded to, we have discussed and agreed a statement this week in the context of the UN, through its Human Rights Council. There is also the statement and support that we have received from the G7. It is important that democracies come together. We will continue to work in this regard to ensure that the UK fulfils its obligations to those in Hong Kong, while respecting that we still believe that the agreement signed should remain in force for the period intended, which was 50 years.

Lord Craig of Radley Portrait Lord Craig of Radley (CB) [V]
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My Lords, does this welcome BNO announcement include the 64 Hong Kong Military Service Corps veterans who applied for right of abode in March, and who, with other corps veterans, have had applications under active consideration in the Home Office for over five and a half years, without a decision? Does the Minister agree that these loyal veterans who served in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces deserve priority approval now, and that their wish for a full British citizen’s passport, which other corps veterans received before 1997, should be met?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
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My Lords, I agree with the noble and gallant Lord about the importance of this. I am sure I speak for all noble Lords in paying tribute to those who have served our country and fought for it so bravely. Since the last time we discussed this matter, I have asked for a specific update from the Home Office; I will write to him specifically on the 64 corps members he has mentioned. On the wider issue of prioritisation, as I said earlier, BNO status is granted to all those who qualify, which is 2.9 million, irrespective of their status—the issue of salaries was raised previously—or what they may do. This is open to everyone, and that process will be announced in detail by my right honourable friend the Home Secretary.