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William Hague: Ukraine is not about a strategic competition between East and West and we must engage with Russia

24 February 2014

Russia has been presented as one of the bad guys in the coverage of the turmoil in Ukraine. But today, Sir Menzies Campbell told the Commons that the one thing that linked the three countries mentioned in William Hague’s urgent statement on Ukraine, Syria and Iran was that ‘progress, however limited, was made as a result of engagement with Russia’.

Hague’s reply made clear that bad guy or not, the UK needs to continue engaging with Russia:

‘This is a very important point and again this is why the Prime Minister spoke to President Putin on Friday, why I have spoken to Foreign Minister Lavrov today, and agreed to speak again in the near future.

‘It is very important that we present this correctly, we are seeking a democratic and free future for Ukraine to make its own decisions and we believe that closer economic links between the Ukraine and the European Union can be beneficial to that entire region, including to Russia.

‘We are not presenting it as a strategic competition between East and West: I think that would be a mistake to do so and so our continuous contact with Russia and recognising the fact that their approach to Ukraine will always be important in its stability will be a continuing feature of our policy.’

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Owen Matthews argues in this week’s Spectator that Russia’s run of failure in backing despots in countries such as Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia and Libya has come to an end with Syria and that ‘Moscow’s diplomatic protection in the UN… finally means something again’. The country’s hard power is growing at the same time as Vladimir Putin extends its soft power, and that’s why Hague knows that those calls to the Kremlin need to keep on coming

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Show comments
  • Curnonsky

    Putin is practicing his Charles Bronson impression in the mirror: “Dis ain’t ovah!:

    • Tom Tom

      I suspect it might be more a game of Go than poker

  • Mynydd

    It’s good to read of ministers have taken Mr Cameron at is word, money is no object. First it was Mr Osborne having an open cheque book for the Ukraine, and this afternoon Mr Hague giving more aid to the anti-government forces in Syria.

    • Tom Tom

      Magic Money from the IMF with loans against raw materials and an end to subsidies on gas in Ukraine………watch the freezing masses catch the bus to Victoria Station next winter

  • Airey Belvoir

    Matt Frei on Channel 4 News owned by a young Ukrainian in Kiev, who thought that the fugitive President should suffer the death penalty. Frei (shocked):So you think that the new Ukraine should begin in a spirit of revenge?”. Youth: “Not at all. I think that the old Ukraine should end in a spirit of revenge.”

  • HookesLaw

    Shock horror the foreign secretary says something diplomatic.
    More idiot rubbish from the Spectator

    • Wessex Man

      oh come on Hooky, this type of jackboot diplomacy is going to get us into the next world war!

      • Tom Tom

        The Mouse That Roared….Hague is tea-boy to Victoria Nuland and off to DC to get his batteries changed

  • Roy

    Once more a spokesperson for the West speaks as if the Russian leader is a normal person. For the whole of World War II Stalin was treated thus, even Lenin knew when it was too late, he was too far over the top. These old USSR organisation personnel are infested with bedbugs of their interpretation of communism. They love to see the free West squirm in their openness to do what is right by the people. Like many others, the present leader of Russia only recognizes strength and power. Like our very own union leadership, to smile even, shows a submission to the forces of freedom and truth.

    • Wessex Man

      if you seriously think that the EU is in any way free your education is sadly lacking! Have you not heard of the Toleration Directive currently trundling through it’s bastion? Publications like the Spectator will be judged to be intolerant and therefore open to ‘affirmative discrimination.’ The EU Finance Commissioner now wants control of Pensions throughout the EU, don’t for one moment think that organisations like Standard Life and Zurich will be able to act independently. The absurd Baron Ashton is now more powerful than William Hague and Call me Dave!

      • Roy

        In the broad perspective of the word freedom with North Korea being at the furthest end, I am sure the EU, although lovingly caressing the socialist banner, is for all intense and purposes, a group of states with freedom of expression.

    • Tom Tom

      You clearly have limited knowledge. Stalin was poorly educated, Putin is First Directorate which means he has had the full education and language training superior to any Western politician……..he is fluent in German, the key language. Stalin was wily and outflanked Churchill with his key ally FDR and even had the Morgenthau Plan imposed by his agents in the US Treasury plus Robert Oppenheimer as a spy giving atomic secrets to the USSR.

      I would say we should worry why Western political leaders are badly educated and lack negotiating skills, why they are wet, weak, effeminate, and erratically violent in world affairs

      • The Laughing Cavalier

        But he never rose to senior rank in the KGB and was employed in a low level, low priority post.

        • Baron

          So what was it, in your opinion, that propelled him where he is today?

      • Roy

        Because I never mentioned the myriad of points I could have, doesn’t mean I am unaware of them.

  • Makroon

    I can certainly see the link with Iran. In 1953, the US and UK organised a coup to remove Mossadeq, the democratically elected prime minister of Iran. 61 years later, the US and EU have supported another coup to get rid of the democratically elected leader of Ukraine. And both for the same reason – a failure to put “western interests” first.
    Talk is cheap, but UK funds to the crooks and opportunists now “ruling” in Kiev ? You must be joking Cameron !!!

    • HookesLaw

      Rigged elections

      • Makroon

        Whenever the result doesn’t suit, it’s “rigged elections” time.
        Putting the Shah back, with a murderous secret police, led directly to Khomeini, let’s see what the “Ukraine question” throws up.

        • Tom Tom

          Timoshchenko and the mystery gas contracts…….then again a look at Leonid Kuchma’s time as President shows this playbook is a re-run of events in 2002……..we are watching rival Mafias making the transition as in Romania 1989

      • Tom Tom

        May 2010 ?

    • Tom Tom

      The issue of Anglo-Iranian and the Labour Government getting more in tax revenue on Iranian oil than Iran itself earned was key to the gunboat diplomacy prior to the overthrow of Mossadeq by Kermit Roosevelt of the CIA in an MI6 operation in return for US oil getting a cut of the action in a British zone of influence

  • colliemum

    I find it astonishing that the hacks – and it was them! – have been so happy in portraying Russia and Putin as “the bad guys”. It’s as if the Cold war has never gone away from their minds.
    Cast your mind back to the various ‘Arab Springs’ – and not one of the real dictators there have been so gleefully and childishly painted as ‘bad guys’ by these hacks.
    One wonders why that was. Perhaps our wonderful sensibility towards people of other religions, melanin-enhanced, has played a role?
    Be that as it may – it is a sign of mental laziness, bordering on wilful blindness, to abandon all critical analyis and fall back on a pattern outdated by 25 years.

    • Tom Tom

      Emmanuel Goldstein in Orwell’s 1984……..Britain/US control the world’s No1 propaganda machine and have to tune their domestic populations to be psyched up for a hate-fest

  • Smithersjones2013

    Why anyone would bother wanting to engage with the limp and impotent Wet Willy Eunuch (or the even limper Baroness Ashton) is beyond comprehension.

  • Tom Tom

    Poor Sergei Lavrov having to take Hague seriously…….how far can you suspend disbelief ?

    • the viceroy’s gin

      You can’t. Lavrov openly laughed at Kerry’s stupidity, on camera, and now he’s got the baseball cap wearing Willy H. and his SPaD, forcing him to stifle his laughter again. That’s a tough job the man has.

  • alabenn

    Hague’s reply made clear that bad guy or not, the UK needs to continue engaging with Russia:
    Engage by snubbing their Olympic show because of an obscure Russian law about homosexual teaching, I am sure we will rest easily in our beds with such giants of the diplomatic stage, strutting their stuff.

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