MPs must be 'ready to act' against the Russian threat
Chair of the APPG on Russia, Labour MP Chris Bryant, says the "resurgence of overt aggression and interference" by Russia must not go ignored.
It’s nearly 30 years since Francis Fukuyama published his essay ‘the end of history’. Like many other commentators and politicians of the time, he saw the collapse of the soviet union as a sign that the cold war was over and western liberal democracy was now the “the end point of mankind's ideological evolution”. Whilst events since September the 11th may have made some question the later, the former assertion – that the cold war was over and that Russian adventurism and interference in the west has ended, has had virtually no challenge.
In the past year of global political upheaval, one common thread seems to have run through it all. Brexit, Trump and even the Catalonia referendum all seem to have featured Russian influence. Since Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, an outrageous and illegal act that they have neither been open about or held accountable for, Russia has aggressively pursued its agenda through a variety of means. A sustained campaign of cyber-espionage and disruption has touched almost every recent major political debate and election; Russia state-run media distribute fake stories and photo-shopped images to destabilise the west and trust in governments – a particularly insidious recent example being suspicious of Kremlin sponsored misinformation about vaccines leaving British citizens at risk.
As the chair of Parliament’s All Party Parliamentary Group on Russia, I find the renewed resurgence of overt aggression and interference particularly concerning. Recent reports have found that not only is the UK and NATO “not well prepared for a Russian threat” but that “Russia has not been a UK priority since the end of the Cold War and our expertise in this field has withered on the vine.”
As Chair of the APPG I believe it is critical that Members of Parliament, policy makers and where possible the public at large become better informed about the threat we face from Russia, the scale and nature of their ambition and become better equipped to ensure the government is delivering effective counter measures and solutions.
That’s why this week the group is holding its first event under my chairmanship – a panel discussion featuring some of the journalists and researchers who have been at the heart of the recent revelations of Russia’s interference in the west. Happening today at 6-7:30pm in Committee Room 5 in Parliament it’s open for the public to attend because we want MPs, Peers and the public to begin to understand the challenge we face.
The Prime Minister recently said she did not want to return to the cold war. None of us do. But a foreign government attacking our critical national infrastructure, and attempting to destabilise ourselves and our allies means that as Members of Parliament we have no choice but to be informed, be prepared and be ready to act to protect our country and our national interests.