Keir Starmer on NATO: Labour leader statement shows key differences to Jeremy Corbyn

Ukraine: Russia's stance on NATO discussed by Stewart

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Vladimir Putin, according to intelligence procured by the US, is now on the verge of invading Ukraine. NATO has few options left, either continuing to back the country with military technology and expertise or brokering peace via a summit arranged by French President Emmanuel Macron. Regardless of the outcome, the organisation has shown steadfast unity in the face of Russian aggression, and Sir Keir Starmer has celebrated that.

Earlier this month, Sir Keir indicated his party has an “unshakable” commitment to NATO.

Writing in The Guardian, he said Labour was “foundational” in forming the alliance via former Prime Minister Clement Attlee.

The postwar PM helped broker the agreement that an attack on one NATO member was an attack on all, and the Labour leader hailed the move to end “needless” wars.

In a statement that could be regarded as a thinly veiled swipe directed at Jeremy Corbyn, he said some on the left may be “sympathetic to those siren voices who condemn NATO.”

He was quick to separate himself from his predecessor – whom he has not readmitted to the Labour ranks – stating that moving to condemn NATO is to “condemn the guarantee of democracy and security it brings”.

The statement was a far cry from the days of Mr Corbyn’s Labour, as the former leader is a famed NATO hawk.

In 2011, he branded the organisation a “danger to world peace and world security”, and in 2014 condemned its expansion to the east.

During an “anti-NATO summit”, he said it operated as “an engine for the delivery of oil to the oil companies and the main nations of this world”.

After becoming Labour leader the following year, he was less of an outspoken critic and defended the party policy to maintain spending levels at two percent of the national income.

He has picked up on his former rhetoric again since handing the reins to Sir Keir.

While contributing to a live stream on February 11, he blamed NATO for the tensions with Russia.

He told viewers of the “No war in Ukraine” Stop NATO Expansion” stream that the “buildup of military personnel” eastwards had forced Mr Putin to lash out.

Mr Corbyn added it was “incredibly dangerous” for Britain to join the US in providing military assistance.

The line is one recently used by Russian officials to justify their troop buildup on the Ukrainian border.

With an estimated 150,000 troops now posted along the region and no movement despite Moscow’s insistence, the Kremlin has called for NATO to rule out Ukraine’s eventual membership of the organisation.

Russia claims NATO has encroached too far eastwards, and in doing so broke a promise made in 1990.

One year before the USSR fell, then US Secretary of State James A Baker provided an oral assurance that NATO would not expand beyond then East Germany.

In return, the USSR’s last leader Mikhail Gorbachev permitted the organisation to install troops beyond the iron curtain.

The agreement was never formally ratified, however.

Mr Putin has cited NATO’s eastern expansion as his primary motivation for building a troop presence, as he explained adding Ukraine to NATO ranks would place another rival military base at his front door.

Western nations have chalked his moves up to expansionism, a line that Sir Keir echoes.

He dismissed the idea that NATO is to blame for increased aggression from Russia and said he had challenged Mr Corbyn’s position when he was leader.

He told the BBC his predecessor held a “very different view” and was ultimately wrong about paring back the organisation’s influence.

Sir Keir added if “[Russia] want less NATO, this is entirely the wrong way to go about it”.

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