For over 75 years, Europe has been at peace. That peace has been shattered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. There is no excuse for this invasion, no just cause, not even a credible pretext. It is naked aggression, pure and simple.
Given Russia is so much larger than Ukraine, the odds were always going to be heavily stacked in Russia’s favour. But the spirit and determination of the Ukrainian people to defend their homeland has been changing those odds. In a fast-moving conflict like this, it is impossible to tell what the situation will be when you read this – but I very much hope brave Ukraine will continue to check the Russian advance.
This war is also a direct concern to us. The security of the UK does not begin in the English Channel or on our White Cliffs – it starts out by doing all we can to defend global peace and security.
We have a long and proud history of defending that peace and security. From Napoleon to Hitler we have always faced down those who make land grabs or invade other nations. Putin is just another in a long line of aggressors.
Ukraine is not a member of NATO and this is not a conflict we will enter militarily. But it is important that we are resolute and strong when dealing with Russia. It is also vital we work with our allies in NATO – and that we continue to lead in pressing for unity of purpose and greater action.
There is much we have already done and can continue to do. We have provided state-of-the-art anti-tank missiles, which the Ukrainians have been using to great effect. I am glad we are supplying even more. We have imposed robust sanctions against Russia and have been winning over our allies to impose even more.
Humanitarian aid and assistance is being provided by the UK and our allies. This is both inside Ukraine and in the neighbouring countries who are supporting refugees. I know that more will be asked of us over the coming weeks and months. We should be ready and willing to do what is needed and right to support the Ukrainian people in their hour of need, within Ukraine and those seeking refuge elsewhere.
Our Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has shown great leadership at a time when the West is short of great leaders. He is right to continue to press NATO, Europe and the USA to take the strongest possible stance.
It may be that we cannot stop Putin winning this battle – although given the spirited resistance of Ukraine, I really hope they can. But it must be that we make sure Putin loses the war. That’s why we must look beyond our White Cliffs when we seek to ensure our own security – because the peace and security across the globe is in our most vital interest.