Russia: Corbyn shut down by Wallace on Minsk agreement
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Britain has announced a new package of sanctions against Russia after Vladimir Putin recognised the breakaway Lugansk and Donetsk regions as independent, sending in “peacekeepers”. The former Labour leader suggested it would be more worthwhile for the UK to engage in proper negotiations with Moscow to bring the dispute to a peaceful end.
Mr Corbyn today, on Tuesday, asked Defence Secretary Ben Wallace: “Would he be prepared to countenance, if the Russians pull back, any reduction in the NATO presence on the border?
“[This would be] to bring about a longer-term, secure peace in the region.”
But Mr Wallace hit back, suggesting retaliation against Mr Putin was justified because it was Russia, not the UK, that “held a gun to the head of a democratically elected government”.
He said: “We didn’t 165,000 combat troops on the edge of a sovereign country and hold a gun to the head of a democratically-elected government.
“We didn’t do that. Russia did that.
“We have nothing to deescalate from. Russia does.
Moscow doubled down on its opposition to NATO expansionism – to Ukraine, for example – in diplomatic talks last month.
US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman insisted it would not back down on this matter.
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She said: “We will not allow anyone to slam closed NATO’s open-door policy, which has always been central to the NATO alliance.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson echoed this sentiment in a recent NATO speech, noting: “Any country should be free to pursue the security alliances that it, that country chose.
“And we must resist, we must oppose any return to the days when the fates of nations are decided over their heads by a handful of great powers.”
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Newly unveiled documents from the 1990s suggest Western leaders did, in fact, promise Russia NATO would not be expanded eastwards.
But Mr Corbyn’s call for talks to bring about peace have been branded “incompetent” and “tone deaf”.
Oz Katerji, a freelance writer who claims currently to be reporting from Ukraine, said in a post on Twitter: “[Mr Wallace’s response was] a comprehensive and humiliating slap down of Jeremy Corbyn by the Secretary of Defence on Ukraine, Russia and NATO.
“Wallace correctly points out that NATO has ‘nothing to deescalate from’.
“[Mr Corbyn] remains completely incompetent and tone deaf on foreign policy.”
Others have suggested the threat of more sanctions alone will do nothing to stop Russia in its tracks – as it hasn’t up till now – and could do more to damage to the West than the East.
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