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 IT IS TIME TO ARM UKRAINE - LIAM FOX

In the face of Russian aggression, West must think of providing weapons to Ukraine.

Britain's former Defense Secretary Liam Fox said this to The Telegraph.

Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, the former defence secretary warns that the West must "wake up" to the reality of the Kremlin's "clear strategic plan" to dominate Europe from the Baltics to the Balkans.

European states must prioritise national security over welfare and foreign aid, and equip the Ukrainian government with anti-tank weapons, surveillance drones and encrypted technology, Dr Fox argues.

The intervention came as:

:: Britain and the United States announced they are looking at fresh sanctions on the Putin regime "within days" in response to a "brazen and cynical" violation of a truce.

:: Pro-Russian separatists continued to gather around Mariupol, a major Ukrainian port city.

:: Thousands of pro-Kremlin demonstrators gathered in Moscow to denounce the Ukrainian uprising

:: New figures show that British jets have scrambled 43 times since David Cameron took office to intercept Russian bombers.

Dr Fox warns that the West must not "appease" Putin, and argues that while sanctions are harming the Russian economy, the President appears indifferent to the sufferings of his citizens.

Instead, Nato powers must "give the Ukrainians the capabilities they most require in order to defend themselves against the military superiority of the pro-Russian separatists and their Kremlin allies.

"Primarily, this would involve properly encrypted communications, UAVs for surveillance and targeting and anti-tank capabilities to deal with the massive deficit which the Ukrainians currently have on this front. There is increasing scepticism in Washington that any diplomatic solution reached with the Putin government will be as worthless as that achieved in Minsk last September. They are right."

He continues: "Western nations are too afraid to reallocate funds from their welfare-addicted domestic populations to their national security budgets and Russia knows it. This cannot continue."

Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, yesterday condemned the "unacceptable" way in which the ceasefire agreement signed in Minsk had been "systematically breached".

His US counterpart, John Kerry, said: "What's happening with respect to Mariupol even now is just simply unacceptable, so we are talking about additional sanctions, additional efforts.

"Russia has engaged in an absolutely brazen and cynical process over these last days. We know to a certainty what Russia has been providing to the separatists. This is behaviour that is completely counter to everything that the global community has worked to achieve since World War II," he said.

The pair had discussed how to synchronise the response between the US and EU at a meeting in London.

Official government figures show that Russian bomber flights accounted for a third of scrambles by the RAF's Quick Reaction Alert. It follows the interception of two Russian Bear nuclear bombers off Cornwall last week. The Ministry of Defence say none of the flights entered UK airspace.

Sir Tony Brenton, the former British ambassador to Moscow, said: "Putin's signal is we are still a very serious international player and you better b----y well remember it. Part of that is big Russian bombers flying very close to the British coast.

He added there was little Downing Street could do to stop the provocative Russian flights.

"You can call in their ambassador and express displeasure. But the fact is that our relations is so rotten with them now that they don't care," Sir Tony said.

Alexander Yakovenko, the Russian ambassador to London, said yesterday the "training flights" were innocent and attacked Nato patrol flights in Eastern Europe, which he said are "laying the grounds for some aggressive actions against Russian interests".

In Moscow, thousands marched carrying red banners to condemn the Maidan protests of one year ago in Kiev, which ousted President Yanukovich.

"Putinism forever," read one placard, while another said: "Maidan is a disease, we will treat it."

Matthew Holehouse, The Telegraph

 
 
 
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