Westminster concerns over Putin awkward for George Robertson


  By a Newsnet reporter
Concerns over NATO’s readiness to deal with an unpredictable Vladimir Putin have led to calls for the organisation to address “alarming deficiencies” in its preparedness.
A Westminster committee has called on the UK Government to place the threat posed by Russia at the top of the agenda when it hosts a NATO summit in Wales in September.

In a report, the Commons Defence Committee has said: “The UK government should take the lead in ensuring that the NATO summit addresses these threats in the most concrete and systematic fashion.”

Committee Chair, Tory MP Rory Stewart said: “The risk of attack by Russia on a Nato member state, whilst still small, is significant.  We are not convinced that Nato is ready for this threat.

“Nato has been too complacent about the threat from Russia, and it is not well-prepared.”

The calls follow heightened tensions over the situation in Ukraine which has witnessed the Crimea region at the centre of an annexation bid by Russia.  The situation worsened earlier this month when a Malaysian airliner, flying over the conflict area, was brought down by a missile believed to have been fired by pro-Russian militants.

However, concerns over Russia are awkward for leading pro-Union figure Lord George Robertson who earlier this year called for Vladimir Putin to be invited to join NATO.

The former Labour MP, and leading No campaigner, angered UK based Ukrainians when he said: “There’s no security in Europe, unless there’s an eventual perspective of an organisation that says: We stand for values, stand for liberal values, and that has to include Russia.

“Whether under the present or a future leadership, because the previous leadership, when Mr Putin was first president, believed in exactly that objective.  And that’s what we’ve got to aim for.”

Speaking at the time, Zenko Lastowiecki, who is the president of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain, said: “George Robertson’s comments on Russia are as ill-advised as those on Scottish independence.

He added: “His views seem spectacular given his former role in NATO but are wide of the mark.”

Robertson, who is himself a former secretary general of Nato, also caused controversy when he claimed a Yes vote in the independence referendum would be “cataclysmic for the West”. 

The Labour peer has also previously claimed an independent Scotland would not be allowed to remain in NATO if it removed nuclear weapons from the Clyde.