Aiken urges West to take strong stance against Russian threats to Ukraine

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Aiken urges West to take strong stance against Russian threats to Ukraine

The Ulster Unionist Party’s South Antrim MLA, Dr Steve Aiken OBE, has warned that events in Eastern Europe on the border between Ukraine and Russia impact on Northern Ireland and that the West needs to take a strong stance in standing up to Russian threats and aggression.  

Steve Aiken said:

“Events on the other side of Europe may seem far away from Northern Ireland, but in this interconnected & integrated world the Russian pressure on Ukraine will have, and already is having, a direct impact on us.

“The energy crisis, and push of many of our most vulnerable into fuel poverty, is a direct result of fears of a Russian invasion of its neighbour. That a ‘hybrid’ conflict, involving proxies, Russian nationalists, cyber-attacks, violence and more, is being amped up, is unmistakable. That this attack on a precarious democracy, seeking closer association with the EU, NATO and the West, will disrupt energy supplies - or worse - should be a wake-up call for all European & Western allies to double down on responding to Putin’s tactics.

“Instead, we have seen President Biden’s ‘mis-speaking’; the German Government’s representative refusing to supply arms, and even its senior naval officer, suggesting that we should back off and show Putin some respect.

“Following any policy of appeasement, as lessons from history show, only leads to further, and wider, conflict. The only person drawing comfort from this is the occupier of the Kremlin.

“Here in Northern Ireland we need to realise that not only has our nation already been directly attacked – twice - with chemical and radiological weapons emanating from Russia, our health service and critical infrastructure has been constantly under cyber-attack, our energy security has already been challenged, and that we are not immune from this conflict.

“We should be standing strongly beside our Defence & Foreign Secretaries as they call for stronger action; we should also - as we hear so often about the ‘benefits’ of the EU from some quarters - be calling on all of the EU to act cohesively against Russian aggression, and maybe, for once, the Republic of Ireland, as a temporary member of the UN Security Council, could actually take a strong stance and encourage their German friends to realise 84 years on, that appeasing dictators never leads to good outcomes.

“While Simon Coveney is 'briefing' his EU counterparts on Russian live fire exercises off the Irish Coast, neither the Irish naval service, nor the air corps, can either conduct surveillance or monitor these activities; the Irish cannot even call on NATO to provide these services. In trying & destabilising times, the failure of the Irish State to protect its own Sovereignty, impacts on us all.”