Sanctions don't spell catastrophe for Russia
Russian economist says new sanctions won't be catastrophic for Russian economy, while Muscovites appear resilient to measures.PT1M23S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-3cw2a 620 349 July 31, 2014
London: Britain's ability to deal with an aggressive Russia has been "seriously degraded in recent years" and the Ukraine crisis should be a "wake-up call" to Nato, MPs will warn on Thursday.
The crisis represents a "game-changer" for Britain's defence policy and shows that its armed forces not only must deal with terrorists from failed states, but also "focus on the defence of Europe against Russia".
The Commons defence select committee published its report as David Cameron said Britain needed to make a stand but was not going to start World War Three over Russia's involvement in Ukraine.
British PM compared Russia to pre-war Germany in the 20th Century. Photo: Reuters
The Prime Minister compared Russia's behaviour in Ukraine to Germany's before the outbreaks of the First and Second World Wars. He said the West had to draw a line or Russia would start to put similar pressure on European Union countries on the eastern fringes of the continent such as Romania.
He added that fresh sanctions against Russia were part of an effort by the West to ratchet up the pressure on President Vladimir Putin and force him to change course. But Britain was "not about to launch a European war", he said however. "We are not about to send the fleet to the Black Sea."
Relations between Russia and the West were already at their lowest since the end of the Cold War, but have deteriorated since 298 people when killed when Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down on July 17 by a surface-to-air missile thought to have been fired by Russian separatists in east Ukraine.
Moscow said on Wednesday that a wave of new European and American sanctions announced on Tuesday targeting Russia's economy would drive up EU energy prices and hurt the bloc's economy as much as Russia. The Russian foreign ministry said targeting the Russian financial, defence and energy sectors was "a thoughtless, irresponsible step".
The defence select committee says Russian actions in the Ukraine crisis, where it is accused of supplying men, equipment, firepower and guidance to separatists, have "raised the prospect, however unlikely, of a Russian attack on a Nato member state".
Britain's ability to understand Russia's intentions and to react have been hit by cuts in Russian expertise in the Government and the country needs more defence attaches and experts in the area. The risk of a conventional military assault by Russia on a Nato member state remains "low", the MPs conclude, but the prospect of a campaign of unconventional tactics such as that used by Mr Putin in Ukraine is "more substantial".
Rory Stewart, chairman of the committee, 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."
He said the alliance had been "too complacent" about the threat from Russia, and is "not well-prepared".
The head of the trade body for the world's airlines told The Daily Telegraph that intelligence agencies must begin to share information about conflict zones to prevent tragedies such as that of MH17 from happening again.
Tony Tyler, chief executive of the International Air Transport Association, said that governments had a "moral responsibility" to help airlines assess potential threats. He spoke after a meeting of industry leaders and UN officials, convened in response to the shooting down of the Malaysia Airlines flight, with the aim of ending confusion over which war zones are safe to cross.
"If an agency of government has information which relates to the safety of international aviation it should find a way of sharing that information so the people who are operating can use it," Mr Tyler said. "Otherwise what use is it? What's the point of having it if it is not going to be used to save lives or protect lives?"