The Germans have realised that security cannot be achieved with an underfunded army in which they are forced to train with broomsticks instead of guns. Taken with Denmark’s recent announcement of increased defence spending, it seems that Europe is waking up to the grim reality of geopolitics.
Russian aggression has rightly prompted the West to renew a more muscular military proposition to maintain its security. Thankfully some of the naïve fifth columnists of the ‘global’ left, who have demonised Western 'warmongering' for so long, are now accepting that the ill-intent and violence of dictators must be confronted by those with backbone and military experience.
Unforeseen threats are accommodated by maintaining broad military capability, including investing in emerging cyber technologies. Our enemies and competitors know this. Whilst Britain has performed better on this front than many of our European peers, there is still more to be done. We can never rest or be complacent. Defence expenditure should not be a dirty term. Military strength is not fascism. It is in fact the only way to ensure that we are capable of standing up to state bullies and those non-state barbarians who wish to destroy our very way of life.
Strong military capability also lets other democratic leaders know that we're with them ideologically but also in the reality of providing hardware and military support. It is telling that, in response to the patronising Sky News presenter’s loaded questions about alleged Russian money in British politics, Ukraine’s former president Petro Poroshenko praised the UK and praised our Prime Minister. We have delivered a large number of modern weapons, as well as training soldiers to use them, which is surely helping the Ukrainians resist the invasion.
Defence is not just about foreign projection. It is also about securing our borders against infiltrators and working with our allies to identify internal threats and nefarious networks. For too long our broken asylum system has been a porous entry route for would-be terrorists and others who disappear into the murky criminal shadows. We must take action to close this pathway and work against the those professionals that support the people traffickers, by closing the loopholes through which their ideological devotion to open doors migration operates. Conversely, genuine refugees, such as the Ukrainians fleeing the horrors of the Russian bombing campaign, should be welcomed with open arms and I am clear that we must speed up our processes on this front.
Geopolitics is shifting. One potential silver lining of this crisis is that the West has been injected with a new sense of unity, decisiveness and determination.. The elephant in the room though is China. It is worrying that they have recently declared an ‘everlasting friendship’ with Russia, who will never be anything more than a resource-rich vassal state in that relationship. Whilst the Chinese Government have not demonstrated the same level of rash aggression as Putin, their actions in Hong Kong, Xinjiang and elsewhere do not fill me with confidence as to the benevolence of their motives. However, it still remains the case that we can work with them to perhaps isolate Russia on their road to darkness and destruction.