Why former Nato chief Lord Robertson told Parliament Britain is now at war with Putin’s Russia over Ukraine
Britain is at war with Russia over Ukraine, a former Nato chief has told Parliament.
The stark assessment was made by Lord Robertson of Port Ellen as he welcomed the support being provided to the Kyiv government, including the sending of 14 Challenger 2 tanks.
The Labour former defence secretary also expressed the hope the move would put pressure on the Berlin government to approve the export of German-made Leopard tanks, which are seen as vital in the fight against invading Kremlin forces.
In addition to the tanks, Britain is also providing additional artillery.
Speaking at Westminster, Lord Robertson – who served as secretary general of the Nato military alliance from 1999 to 2004, said: “The Ukrainians are defending themselves, but they are also, in defending their country, defending us as well.
“Vladimir Putin has made it clear that he is at war with the West and with us and we must take that extremely seriously indeed.”
He added: “The decision to send the Challenger tanks is a good one and hopefully it will add some pressure to the German government to release the Leopard tanks that other countries wish to give at the present moment.”
Pressing for a full debate at Westminster on the continuing conflict, Lord Robertson said: “We are at war. Vladimir Putin is at war with us and in a wartime situation we really need to have an opportunity for Parliament to say its word.”
The peer also called for the Prime Minister, when he next visits Kyiv, to invite opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer.
Lord Robertson said: “It’s extremely important that the Ukrainians and the Russians see that it is the British people who are fighting at the present moment and not simply the British Government.”
Lady Goldie agreed to take the suggestion back to the department.
“I do understand the point he is making,” she said.
Updating the House of Lords earlier on the latest hardware being sent to Ukraine, including the tanks, the minister said: “Training will start as soon as the Ukrainian troops arrive in the UK. That’s likely to be by the end of this month.
“All the equipment we have announced will be operated by Ukrainian troops on the battlefield in the coming months.
“There is a mutual desire both on the part of the UK and on the part of the Ukrainian government to accelerate this as best we can.”
Seeking to reassure peers that UK military stockpiles were being replenished given the support being provided, she said: “We are fully engaged with industry, allies and partners to ensure both the continuation of supply to Ukraine and that all equipment and munitions granted in kind from UK stocks are replaced as expeditiously as possible.
“Exact stockpile details are classified for obvious operational reasons, but what I can say is a number of substantial contracts have already been placed to directly replenish UK stockpiles.”
This included the resupply of the Starstreak high velocity anti-air missile, the lightweight multi-role missile, and the shoulder-launched next generation light anti-tank weapon (NLAW).