This week, I wish to join with the Ukrainian community of South Derbyshire in expressing my solidarity following the brutal invasion of Ukraine by Vladimir Putin. Words cannot begin to capture the heart-breaking scenery we have witnessed in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Kherson. Russia is shelling areas heavily populated with civilians in defiance of international law.
We thought we had closed the door on full-scale warfare in Europe following the Second World War, we were wrong. Crucially, Putin was also wrong. He has completely misjudged the resolve of the British people and the West. We are united in our condemnation of his aggressive war, and thanks to the leadership of the Prime Minister, we have provided significant military support to the people of Ukraine well in advance of this week’s invasion.
Since 2015, Britain has trained over 22,000 members of the Ukrainian army and, since 2019, assisted Ukraine to build up and sustain a naval capability. In the months prior to the invasion, the UK provided extra support in the form of 2000 anti-armour missiles, which the Ukrainians are now putting to good use.
Western leaders have taken the decision to prioritise the Ukrainian people and Ukraine’s sovereignty over short-term financial gain. We have imposed severe sanctions against Russia, including freezing the assets of the Russian Central Bank, removing Russia from the SWIFT banking system and preventing Russian companies from raising capital in UK markets. We have also imposed sanctions on 100s of Russian companies and oligarchs. We will go further. I must level with everyone in South Derbyshire – the measures the British Government has taken against Russia will not be painless for us at home, but they are necessary to send the message that a nuclear power cannot subjugate smaller nations it neighbours.
The Home Secretary announced yesterday that the through the expansion of the Family Visa route, the UK will accept up to 200,000 Ukrainian refugees. She indicated the UK stands ready to go further if required. Along with further troop deployment for our NATO allies in the Baltic, we are also sending a thousand soldiers to assist in the ongoing humanitarian crisis on the Ukraine/Polish border.
I appreciate that many in South Derbyshire will be asking themselves what more they can do to help the Ukrainians. Today the Disasters Emergency Committee have launched their Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal. The Government will begin matching pound-for-pound the public’s first £20 million and look to increase over time. This is the largest ever aid-match contribution. You can donate here: https://donation.dec.org.uk/ukraine-humanitarian-appeal
I echo the words of the Prime Minister: “Putin Must Fail”. My unconditional support remains with President Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people. They continue to demonstrate that you cannot extinguish the flame of democracy, independence, and liberty.