Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 6 March 2014


Si vis pacem, para bellum – if you seek peace, prepare for war – is a wise maxim first coined by a Roman called Vegetius about 1500 years ago. And has not history underpinned this truth time and time again? When we appease, (Hitler in 1930's) it is a disaster. When we stand up to would-be tyrants (cold war) it has a greater chance of ending well.

That is the prism through which I am viewing the unfolding events in Ukraine. I am not suggesting for a moment that we should send in troops, but rather that we (i.e. NATO and the UN) should make a very tough response to the effective annexation of the Crimea by Russia. This might include suspending Russia from G8 and all kinds of economic sanctions.

Former President Yanukovych of Ukraine was ousted by his own people because he and his family were utterly corrupt, lined their own pockets and refused to sign a trade agreement between the EU and Ukraine. Doubtless the people who have taken over in Ukraine are far from perfect, but they appear well-intentioned, have already called for fresh elections and look to embrace the west and the values that underpin democracy.

Russia is now scarcely recognisable as a democratic state, being run by a handful of very rich gangster-types who have turned their backs on the rule of law and human rights. The old Bear is flexing its muscles once again. If we meekly allow them to annex part of another country simply because it has many Russian speakers in it, where will it turn next? Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are all in the same boat. What about growing Russian influence in Syria or Iran should they grow in confidence as a result in our acquiescence in Ukraine.

I recognise there is no appetite for military action in the USA or the UK, and I repeat that I am not calling for it. But history tells us that if we do not stand up to the playground bully right away he will only grow in ambition and confidence. Because this is Europe and impacts greatly upon our stability and economic prosperity, it is certainly something to do with us.

Other world powers are doubtless watching the west's reaction carefully. China is itching to give Japan a bloody nose over the disputed islands in the South China Sea. This is not a time for faint-hearted leadership from the White House or Brussels.

posted by Gary @ 09:41