Bristol MP condemns Western ‘retreat’ in Ukraine and praises constituents

A Bristol MP has condemned the “retreat” of the Western world over recent years, quoting a former US Secretary of Defence who said that “weakness is provocative”.

Jack Lopresti, MP for Filton and Bradley Stoke, wrote on his website that the war in Ukraine shows that “we should never take our freedoms and liberties for granted”, and slammed the “disgraceful and premature” withdrawal from Afghanistan.

He also wrote that he is “incredibly proud” of his constituents who are fundraising and offering humanitarian support to Ukraine, adding that he is in “regular contact” with Ministers to ensure that the supplies that are most needed are delivered.

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Writing in a blog post on his website, the Conservative MP praised the impact of the huge number of sanctions imposed on Russia following the invasion of Ukraine, writing: “Ordinary Russians are now feeling the financial pinch with dramatically increased interest rates and a plunging currency exchange rate, causing substantial hardship to the people of Russia.”

He described the war – that has been waging for almost a month – as a “stark reminder of just how fragile peace and security can be”, and says that it has caused the UK to “reflect” on its own defence capabilities, as well as its role in alliances such as NATO.

However, he was sharply critical of defence policies over recent years: “Sadly, in my view, the Western world has in recent years given the impression that we are in retreat and unwilling to stay the course and honour our defence and security responsibilities. Of great significance, we recently saw the disgraceful and premature withdrawal from Afghanistan and previously from Iraq which led to the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the rise of Daesh in Iraq.

Daryna Kovalenko, 19, holds her dog Tim, while arriving at Kyiv's train station after leaving her home in Chernihiv, Ukraine, through a humanitarian corridor on Monday, March 21, 2022
Daryna Kovalenko, 19, holds her dog Tim, while arriving at Kyiv’s train station after leaving her home in Chernihiv, Ukraine, through a humanitarian corridor on Monday, March 21, 2022
(Image: AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

He added: “This very much reminds me of the words of the former United States Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld, who said: ‘IfI know anything, I know that history shows that weakness is provocative. Weakness invites people into doing things they wouldn’t otherwise think of.'”

He also implicitly criticised other NATO members for their financial contributions to the alliance, writing that the UK is “one of the few NATO members” that spends the agreed 2 per cent of GDP on defence. Currently, around 10 countries of the 30 NATO members are spending 2 per cent or more of GDP on defence.

Mr Lopresti also praised Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s address to parliament two weeks ago, describing it as “powerful” and “historic”, adding: “it was certainly a moment I shall never forget”.

Concluding his blog post, Mr Lopresti strongly praised people in his constituency: “I am incredibly proud of the humanitarian support and fundraising which is taking place in the constituency. From the bank in Filton, to the management team at Cribbs Causeway, I am moved by the huge fundraising and support efforts being made.

“I am maintaining regular contact with Ministers in the Foreign Office to identify what is most needed and where best for it to be delivered – and I am proud that members of our local communities are so keen to help our Ukrainian friends in this hour of desperate need.”

For the latest updates on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, click here

The photo of Jack Lopresti MP in the main image is released under an Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) licence.

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