Last Friday the House of Lords debated a report from its European Union Committee on Russia and the EU. Reading through the debate, all of which is available here, provides a very good overview of the many concerns that we might have about the Russian Bear.
Conservative peers made some particularly telling contributions.
Lord Crickhowell took a sceptical position on the issue of Russia and NATO:
"I feel bound to question whether expansion of NATO to Russia's borders, and the encouragement of Georgia to join, adds to the security of the countries which Russia identifies as its near abroad, or to the stability of the world. It is not clear to me what NATO would have done if Georgia had been a member of it when Russian forces advanced into South Ossetia and beyond."
Lord Hamilton of Epsom made an interesting demographic point:
"One of the witnesses quoted in our report said that the population of Russia is now 142 million and by 2050, it will be down to 110 million. That is a catastrophic drop in population. Putin has referred to it as one of the biggest problems facing his country."
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