David Cameron has made a statement to the House of Commons about the destruction of MH17 over eastern Ukraine. He was quick to say that even those who shot down flight MH17 would not have intended to commit such an atrocity. But, nevertheless, he excoriated Russia. ‘A conflict that could have been curtailed by Moscow has instead been fomented by Moscow,’ he said. He went on say that there is evidence that Russian weapons have found their way into the hands of pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine.
Cameron’s sadness and disgust were palpable. He said that it is time that Europe brought its power and influence to bear on Russia. He said that Russia cannot expect to have normal relations with the EU and the US when it behaves in this way. He hopes that the European Union will subject Russia to ‘tier three’ sanctions (those affecting financial services, defence and energy, among other things).
Cameron has two objectives: to open the crash site to international investigators and to force Russia to bring the separatists to heel, one way or another. He believes that sanctions will work because it is his view that Russia needs the EU and the US more than the EU and the US need Russia. Time will tell. The European Union is not united on this issue – at least not yet. Much will depend on the meeting in Brussels tomorrow.
There were also exchanges about the situation in Gaza. David Cameron walked the line between saying that Israel has a right to defend itself proportionately and expressing concern for Palestinian casualties. The debate that followed was more heat than light, although Harriet Harman did prompt Cameron into saying that the conflict will end when Hamas stops its rocket attacks. The Prime Minister repeated that line in subsequent answers.