04 May 16. UK-Russia Relationship At All-Time Low, Hears Defence Committee In Moscow. The Defence Committee visited Moscow last week in connection with its current inquiry entitled ‘Russia: Implications for UK Defence and Security’. The Committee held meetings with a wide cross-section of interlocutors including representatives of the Russian Government, parliamentarians, key Russian opposition spokespeople, ambassadors, journalists and independent analysts. Amongst these diverse viewpoints, all reached a common consensus: the relationship between the UK and Russia was at an all-time low.
With tensions between the two exacerbated by Russia’s actions in Ukraine and the Russian fear of an expanding NATO, this visit could not have been more topical in the run-up to the NATO Summit in Warsaw in July. The atmosphere in Moscow captured the tension between two fundamentally different viewpoints: that of the West, perceiving accelerating aggression from Russia and of Russia perceiving NATO as a military organisation encroaching on its borders.
The Committee heard that little in the forthcoming NATO Summit would appeal to Russia. The Committee also heard that increased and concerted dialogue between Russia and the UK was key at such a tenuous time for the relationship.
The Leader of the Delegation, the Rt. Hon John Spellar commented: “The forthcoming NATO Summit highlights the importance for the West and the UK of the relationship with Russia, and our visit made clear that now is the right time for the Committee to explore it.”
04 May 16. International Development Committee Fourth Report 2015-16: Crisis in Yemen. International Development Committee press for an immediate independent investigation into breaches of humanitarian law in Yemen.
Strong evidence that delivery of aid relief is still undermined by ongoing breaches of international humanitarian law
Through correspondence with the Foreign Secretary (published as an appendix to the report), the Committee understands that the Government wants Saudi Arabia, “first and foremost” to conduct thorough and conclusive investigations into breaches of international humanitarian law (IHL).
However, evidence to the Committee’s inquiry strongly suggests that IHL is being breached, making the relief effort difficult and dangerous. Schools, health and vital water and nutrition supplies are at risk while the civilian population bears the brunt of the fighting. Yemen faces one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world, with 82% of the population in need of assistance.
Chair of the International Development Committee, Stephen Twigg MP, commented: “In light of the reports of violations of IHL by the Saudi-Arabia-led Coalition, the Committee welcomes the current inquiry by the Committees on Arms Exports Controls (CAEC) to consider the use of UK-manufactured arms in Yemen.
“The IDC recommends that CAEC considers the case for suspending UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia until there is evidence that no ‘clear risk’ that arms exported from the UK might be used in the commission of a serious violation of IHL in the country.
“Meanwhile the Yemeni population is really suffering. The Committee commends DFID for acting swiftly and efficiently to reach people in dire need and contributing £85m so far. However, the UK Government should look at the evidence presented in our report and consider carefully the paradox at play here.
“Finally, Ministers must continue to apply pressure on all parties to the conflict to agree to the next round of peace talks and ensure they are inclusive and represent the needs of the Yemeni population.”
House of Commons and House of Lords Hansard Written Answers
Asked by Kirsten Oswald
Asked on: 25 April 2016
Ministry of Defence
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of using drones to detect mines and improvised explosive devices.
Answered by: Penny M