It is now two weeks, but already the war in Ukraine has changed everything.
Our Prime Minister Boris Johnson has led the way in galvanising the West. The UK has been supplying Ukraine with anti-tank systems so they can defend themselves to great effect. We have also persuaded our allies to eject Russia from global financial markets and to impose really tough sanctions on Russia.
For years, the West had been drifting apart, while the NATO alliance was beginning to look obsolete. Years of disinterest in European defence and military budgets has ended overnight. In just a week, European security is top of the list. The Western alliance has become stronger than it has been for years, while NATO has regained its sense of purpose.
The world has been turned on its head these past two weeks. The West is united and strong once more. But it is, undeniably, a unity which will be both necessary and much tested over the coming weeks and months.
Most immediately, there is vital and urgent assistance needed for Ukraine by way of diplomatic, military and humanitarian support. Our whole community will have an essential role in supporting war refugees. It’s clear we must also look to our energy and food security here at home as well as continuing to lead the way in standing up for brave Ukraine.
In the wake of Russia’s war, cost of living pressures at home are now going to be an issue for much longer. The cost of oil and gas has rocketed. Ukraine is also one of the World’s key food producers, so food staples like wheat have shot up too, and may well rise further.
The war has highlighted the importance of energy and food security. We import oil, gas and food. With pressures on global supply chains, it is the right time to prioritise domestic food production so we can ensure our food supplies are secure and prices more affordable.
We also need to look at the enormous resources available to us to create our own energy, including in the North Sea. Greater exploitation of oil and gas resources is now possible with modern methods. These supplies can be ramped up quickly if we are determined.
One of the best ways to counter the rising cost of living is to produce more of what we need here at home – so we are not dependent on global markets in a time of global crisis. That’s why we need urgently to ensure our farmers are encouraged to maximise food production and crop yields. Why we need to focus on our domestic oil and gas resources. Also to ensure we strengthen our manufacturing base, producing more home-grown goods.
So much has already changed in two weeks, and there will be more change to come. We must be prepared, generous and sensible in how we respond.