Burnley MP seeks further support for NATO allies in Eastern Europe over Ukraine crisis
Addressing Defence Secretary Ben Wallace in the Commons, Mr Higginbotham said: “The current forward deployed forces of the UK and NATO were put in place in 2017 at a time when Russia was acting belligerently.
"Circumstances have moved on significantly since then. Russia isn’t belligerent but openly hostile, supporting Belarus with the weaponisation of migrants, as well as building up the most significant military force since the Second World War.
"Could the Secretary of State therefore give some more detail on the planning going on in the Ministry of Defence and NATO should further reinforcements be needed by NATO. But also any refugee crisis that might then follow?”
Responding, Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace said: “The Supreme Allied Commander Europe requested a few weeks ago at a sort of donor conference for members of the NATO alliance to put forward a range of forces. Some of them forces, some of them forces are the ones I have listed and we are guided by where he wishes deploy them - to provide either resilience, reassurance or containment.
"NATO has a whole range of options that it can deploy at times of crisis. And they will no doubt play in should Russia make the foolish mistake of invading Ukraine.”
Speaking after the debate Antony said: “Any attack on Ukraine will be an attack on freedom and democracy in Europe. And in launching such an action Putin and his friends in the Kremlin will have the opposite effect to that which they hope - reinforcing the NATO resolve and bringing significant damage to the Russian economy through an enormous package of sanctions.
"But we also need to prepare for the fallout from any invasion. That will need to see us reinforcing the current NATO forces in Eastern Europe to reassure our allies, and managing what will inevitably be one of the most serious refugee crises in modern times.
"Millions of Ukrainians will need to flee their homes to seek safe haven elsewhere and it was reassuring to hear that the UK and NATO are already planning for this potential scenario.”