Daniel Kawczynski, Member of Foreign Affairs Select Committee and Chairman of the All Party Group for Poland, is the latest high profile Member of Parliament to call for a change in the relationship between NATO and Russia, specifically asking for a reversal of the military build-up on the Russian and NATO borders and a de-escalation of the recent tensions.
Mr. Kawczynski, writing in a letter to the Telegraph newspaper, said whilst acknowledging that many in the London political circles “are suspicious of Russian motives and intentions” and see Russia as “causing concern for European security particularly over her actions in Crimea and in Eastern Ukraine”, Kawczynski points to the real danger of the current “arms race” getting out of control, especially on the borders of NATO and Russia.
The Shrewsbury MP – who easily held his seat against Labour’s Dr. Laura Davies, and UKIP’s Suzanne Evans in 2015 – mentions the military build-up both in the Russian Kaliningrad enclave, as well as across Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, which causes the tensions to escalate on either side of the borders. He contrasts this with the “excellent relationship that Norway and other NATO countries had in the past with both the Soviet Union and now Russia” and recommends that to be used as a “prototype to be emulated going forward”, as per the advice given to him by the Norwegian Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg.
“Our friends and allies neighbouring Russia express to us concerns about the intransigence they face from Moscow over issues of importance to them” said Mr. Kawczynski, adding that “if Russia is to break through to a more sensible approach from London and Washington these local concerns need to be addressed first”. However he also believes that “Moscow (only needs to bear a) very limited financial and security cost to show the West she is serious about détente”.
His proposal that in order for “the Russians (to) show they are serious about wanting to engage with (NATO) and that a partnership in the future could be possible” they could show good will with a “small gesture” of returning the wreckage of the Polish Presidential plane which crashed near Smolensk in 2010, hence proving their willingness to “engage with their immediate neighbours”. Of course, the fact that six years after the disaster Russia still has not returned the wreckage to Poland understandably “causes suspicion and concern amongst Polish politicians”.
“It is so much more difficult for politicians in London to hold out their hand in friendship to our Russian counterparts when stories of this kind are being transmitted to us by our friends in Poland” says Kawczynski, whilst pointing to the “huge loss (of opportunities) for both Britain and Russia”. Stressing that he genuinely hopes for better relations between Russia and Britain, Daniel Kawczynski implores the Russian government to show it is equally serious about the de-escalation of tensions by performing this “important symbolic gesture” towards NATO.
The MP’s comments follow closely on from the new Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, urging a “normalisation” of relations with Russia. He in turn followed the lead of the new British Prime Minister Theresa May.