Session 2008-09, 14 January 2009
RUSSIA: A NEW CONFRONTATION?
The Defence Committee is today announcing a new inquiry into NATO relations with Russia. The inquiry will examine the implications of Russia's foreign and defence policy for UK and NATO security.
This inquiry will build on the Committee's previous findings and conclusions reached in its Report, published in March 2008, The Future of NATO and European Defence (Ninth Report of Session 2007-08). This Report provided a comprehensive analysis of the Atlantic Alliance, its role and purpose, and examined NATO's readiness and capability. It also noted concerns voiced during its European visits about a resurgent Russia.
Since the publication of the Committee's Report on NATO, tensions have heightened between Russia and the West, and are particularly apparent over a number of issues. President Medvedev announced on 5 November 2008 that Russian Armed Forces would deploy short-range missiles in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad to neutralise, "if necessary", the threat of the US ballistic missile defence system.
A further issue is the current dispute between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The summer 2008 conflict over South Ossetia has led to some commentators fearing that the crisis could lead in the longer-term to a renewed cold war.
Energy security issues are also an increasing area of tension in Russian-European relations. On 1 January, the Russian energy giant Gazprom cut off gas supplies to the Ukraine over a payment dispute. Although in the immediate term this particular dispute has not threatened the UK's gas supply, disputes over Russian energy resources have the potential to destabilise European security.
The Committee's inquiry will focus on the following points:
- the current and future relationship between Russia and NATO, and between NATO members, including examining areas of tension and cooperation.
- the effectiveness of the NATO-Russia Council, for instance in increasing cooperation on nuclear and counter-terrorism initiatives;
- the implications of recent tensions with Russia for UK security, including:
the Russian-Georgian territorial dispute over South Ossetia and Abkhazia and the implications of this for countries neighbouring Russia with significant ethnic Russian populations;
the US's proposed ballistic missile defence system and Russia's planned deployment of missiles in the Baltic;
Russia's suspension of its participation in the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty, and the prospect of its missiles being retargeted towards European locations; and
- the current and future relationship between Russia, the UK, and EU, and the implications for the UK Government's foreign and defence policy in response to Russia's current foreign policy and practice, particularly in light of the recent Georgian conflict.
The Committee would welcome written evidence to this inquiry by Wednesday 11 February 2009. The Committee expects to take oral evidence between February and March in the House of Commons.
SUBMISSION OF WRITTEN EVIDENCE:
- Submissions should be in Word or rich text format and sent by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have any queries on the submission of evidence contact Sara Turnbull, Inquiry Manager, tel: 020 7219 6951, email: email@example.com
- The body of the e-mail must include a contact name, telephone number and postal address. The e-mail should also make clear who the submission is from.
- Submissions should be as brief as possible, and paragraphs should be numbered for ease of reference. Longer documents should include an executive summary.
- Committees make public much of the evidence they receive during inquiries. If you do not wish your submission to be published, you must clearly say so. If you wish to include private or confidential information in your submission to the Committee, please contact the Clerk of the Committee to discuss this.
- Personal information, such as address and contact details, should be provided separately from the body of your submission. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
- Submissions should be original work, not previously published or circulated elsewhere. Once submitted, no public use should be made of the submission unless you have first obtained permission from the Clerk of the Committee.