In June 1997, Liam Fox was appointed Opposition Front Bench Spokesman on Constitutional Affairs, UK. For four years from May 1999 to November 2003 he served as Shadow Secretary of State for Health before being appointed Co-Chairman of the Party in 2003. Subsequently, from May 2005 to December 2005, he served as Shadow Foreign Secretary. He then served as Shadow Secretary of State for Defence from December 2005 to May 2010.
How do events in Ukraine impact the security of Baltic countries? Should we be worried?
Yes. Baltic countries should be worried. Putin's speeches have made it clear that Russia can and will protect Russians living in other countries irrespective of international borders.
If you were a MOD of Baltic countries, what strategy would you pursue?
I would recommend bringing in as much NATO presence as possible as a deterrent. Russia's aggressive actions come as a direct consequence of complacency of NATO and the EU, and systematic failure to react to aggressions in recent past (Georgia, energy blackmail with Ukraine, cyber attack on Estonia). The Baltics need permanent and considerable NATO military presence on the ground, along with air support and naval capability, and most importantly - resolve to use it.
Is NATO's response to Ukraine situation sufficient?
There is finally consensus that the only way to stop Russian aggression across Europe is not only to show NATO's capability to defend its members, but willingness to use force. We had finally learned lessons from trying to rationalize Russia's actions in the past, and now it's time to take firm steps to stop this aggressive behavior.
There is still considerable dependence in some NATO countries on Russian weaponry [several CEE countries have considerable numbers of Russian fighter jets, tanks, etc.] and energy. If NATO is to eliminate these economic links - who will pick up the costs?
This is a complex issue, and clearly it will hurt NATO countries in the short term. However, reliance on Russian energy and technology is a strategic weakness and will expose us all to imminent threat. We must all bond together and stand firm in face of any military or political aggression. NATO is about collective gain and we stand committed to this cause.
What, in your view, is Putin’s next move?
It seems clear that his aim is to thwart Western and NATO ideology, democracy and self-determination, even at great economic and political cost to Russia. Where military options are not yet possible, he will pursue a policy of destabilization - using local media, funding local elections, leveraging local ethnic Russian populations - all to create an environment friendly to Russia and which he can eventually control. He is well aware of NATO's military superiority, but he must be made aware of our willingness to use it.