MPs are calling on the Government to set out a "realistic vision" of the UK's place in the world and give a clearer indication of circumstances in which the armed forces could be committed to military action.
The Commons Defence Select Committee said the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts meant there was a "lack of appetite" for military operations,
But the MPs warned that choosing not to intervene in some crises could have implications for the UK as profound as the decision to commit troops.
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The MPs suggested Russia may have felt empowered to intervene in Ukraine because the UK and other countries had failed to act in Georgia or Syria.
In its report, the committee said: "Witnesses have suggested that non-intervention could have wider global implications than merely in the current area of concern.
"In this regard, non-intervention can be related closely to a failure of deterrence, for whilst the capability to intervene might exist, the lack of will to intervene undermines the ability to deter."
Committee chairman James Arbuthnot said: "The British people are suspicious of the motivation for deploying troops to certain situations but not others."