Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Second Report

1  Introduction

1. This Report, Global Security: Russia, is the second in our series of Reports on Global Security. We published our first Global Security Report, concerning the Middle East, in August 2007.[1] Our third Global Security inquiry concerns Iran.

2. We announced our inquiry into Global Security: Russia in February 2007. We decided to look at Russia in large part because of its role in UK and EU energy security. Supply disruptions in January 2006 and January 2007 had highlighted Russia's role as an EU energy supplier and accelerated the rise of the energy security issue up the UK and EU policy agendas. We were also aware of the wide range of other international security issues important to the UK where Russia has an impact, and of tensions in the bilateral UK-Russia relationship which had been underlined by the murder of Mr Alexander Litvinenko in London in November 2006.

3. Reflecting Russia's international role, the terms of reference for our inquiry were broad. We decided to "inquire into Russia's impact on global security and foreign policy aspects of the United Kingdom's relations with and policy towards Russia."[2] Under our terms of reference, issues to be considered would include:

  • energy security;
  • international and regional security issues, including Russia's role in the UN Security Council and the international non-proliferation regime, and its relations with a range of other states, international processes and international organisations, including NATO;
  • engagement with Russia on climate security and anti-terrorism;
  • the promotion of democracy and human rights in Russia;
  • EU-Russia relations, particularly prospects for a successor to the current Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA); and
  • UK-Russia relations, including the activities in Russia of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), the BBC World Service and the British Council.

4. During our inquiry, relations with Russia became a major foreign policy issue for the UK. July 2007 saw the most serious deterioration in bilateral diplomatic relations since the end of the Cold War, as the UK expelled four Russian diplomats in connection with Russia's stance regarding the investigation into Mr Litvinenko's murder, and Russia expelled four UK diplomats in response. During our inquiry, relations with Russia also became more problematic for the West in general, including the US and the EU. Disputes during 2007 between Moscow on the one hand, and Western states and organisations on the other, raised broad questions about the West's post-Cold War relationship with Russia. This was additionally the case because during this period Russia was itself explicitly rethinking its international role.

5. The Foreign Affairs Committee last published a report on Russia two Parliaments ago, in February 2000.[3] That report came at the outset of Vladimir Putin's presidency, one month after Putin had become acting President and one month before he was elected in his own right to succeed Boris Yeltsin. Under the terms of the Russian constitution in force as of autumn 2007, President Putin is obliged to leave the presidency—although not necessarily for all time—at the end of his second successive term in March 2008. Our current Report therefore reflects the state of affairs towards what is likely to be the conclusion of President Putin's (first) presidency.

6. Our inquiry into Russia straddled the change of Government in the UK. We received most of our evidence before the Rt Hon Tony Blair MP stepped down as Prime Minister on 27 June 2007. However, we held our main ministerial evidence session on 18 July 2007 with Mr Jim Murphy MP, Minister of State for Europe in the new Government led by the Rt Hon Gordon Brown MP, shortly after the Minister's appointment. Our evidence session with Mr Murphy took place two days after the UK announced its expulsion of the four Russian diplomats. We were able to put further questions to Mr Murphy during an evidence session on 12 September. During our inquiry, we also put questions on Russia-related matters to the then Foreign Secretary, the Rt Hon Margaret Beckett MP, on 19 June, and to her successor, the Rt Hon David Miliband MP, on 10 October. We were also able to put questions concerning the work of the BBC World Service and British Council in Russia to representatives of those organisations when they gave evidence in June to our separate inquiry into the FCO's Annual Report 2006-07.[4]

7. Altogether, we held three dedicated evidence sessions for our inquiry into Global Security: Russia. We would like to thank all those who gave oral evidence: prior to our July evidence session with Mr Murphy, we heard in late April from Dr Roy Allison, Senior Lecturer, London School of Economics and Political Science, Dr Derek Averre, Senior Research Fellow, University of Birmingham, Ms Katinka Barysch, Chief Economist, Centre for European Reform, Ms Jackie Gower, Visiting Lecturer, King's College, University of London, Professor Margot Light, Professor Emeritus, London School of Economics and Political Science, and Dr Alex Pravda, University Lecturer and Fellow, St Antony's College, University of Oxford; and in mid-May from Ms Anne Aldis, Head, Conflict Studies Research Centre, UK Defence Academy, Professor Bill Bowring, Birkbeck College, University of London, Mr David Clark, Chairman, Russia Foundation, Professor Yury Fedorov, Chatham House, Dr Andrew Monaghan, Senior Research Associate, Conflict Studies Research Centre, UK Defence Academy, and Mr John Roberts, energy security specialist at Platts. We would also like to thank all those individuals and organisations who submitted written evidence to our inquiry.

8. As part of its inquiry, the Committee visited Moscow in June 2007. Some Members of the Committee also visited Azerbaijan, as an example of a post-Soviet country which represents an important alternative to Russia as a source of energy supply. Other Members visited a number of international organisations relevant to the Global Security inquiry in Vienna, including the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Office of the UN Special Envoy for Kosovo, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). We would like to thank all our interlocutors in these locations, and the relevant Ambassadors and other FCO staff who facilitated our visits.

9. Our Report focuses on the main security and other issues featuring in the UK's relations with Russia in 2007, and on key aspects of the UK's policy towards Russia. The UK's relations with Russia are taken to be those which it has both bilaterally and as a member of international organisations such as NATO and the EU. A Report of this kind cannot be exhaustive; the Report's content and conclusions are driven by the evidence we received. Many of the issues which this Report addresses in separate chapters are closely linked; we indicate such linkages but have arranged the material so as to lay out most clearly the issues for UK policy. Chapter 2 provides context for our consideration of the UK's dealings with Russia by highlighting recent developments in Russia's own thinking about its place in the international system. Chapter 3 considers the promotion of democracy and human rights in Russia, as a central element in UK policy towards Russia which forms the background to much else covered in this report. Chapter 4 examines the bilateral UK-Russia relationship more generally, covering both state-to-state and other forms of ties. This chapter includes consideration of the Litvinenko case and the UK's response. Chapter 5 looks at energy security, a key issue for both UK-Russia and EU-Russia relations. Chapter 6 considers the EU-Russia relationship more generally, including the arguments surrounding a successor to the PCA. Via some consideration of the EU's European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and other approaches to the former Soviet space, this chapter points towards broader questions of European security and geopolitics. Chapter 7 considers a number of European security issues where the UK and Russia are engaged, namely Kosovo, missile defence and the NATO-Russia relationship. Chapter 8 broadens the perspective to the international arena, considering Russia's role as regards several international issues of importance to the UK.

1   Foreign Affairs Committee, Eighth Report of Session 2006-07, Global Security: The Middle East, HC 363 Back

2   Foreign Affairs Committee, press notice 16 (Session 2006-07), 23 March 2007 Back

3   Foreign Affairs Committee, Third Report of Session 1999-2000, Relations with the Russian Federation, HC 101 Back

4   See Foreign Affairs Committee, First Report of Session 2007-08, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Annual Report 2006-07, HC 50. Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2007
Prepared 25 November 2007