Standing with Ukraine

We are now in the third week of the illegal  Russian invasion of Ukraine. Against all the odds, the brave Ukrainians have so far held out against their powerful adversary more than could ever be expected. Their courage has been an inspiration to us all.

It was an extraordinary and moving experience to be in Parliament for the historic address by Ukrainian President Zelenski. As the whole House of Commons rose to give him not one, but two, standing ovations, the thought on my, and everyone else’s, mind was as one – what more can we do?

Ukraine is suffering grievously. The scenes from Ukraine have been truly heart rending. The bombing of a children’s hospital and a disabled care home. The medieval siege tactics and indiscriminate attacks on cities like Mariupol and Kharkiv. The shelling of fleeing civilians of Irpin. These are all shameful atrocities by Russia. The International War Crimes tribunal have rightly opened an investigation. There is little doubt war crimes have occurred and those who have committed and ordered them must be held accountable.

Time after time, Putin’s Russia has crossed red line after red line. It’s so important we do all we can to support the Ukrainians. Backing them with weapons, humanitarian support and economic sanctions.

That is why I back giving the Ukrainian Government the weapons they need to defend their homeland. Why I have supported the heavy sanctions that have been imposed on Russia. It is also why I have been calling for us to do our bit to provide sanctuary to Ukrainian refugees who have been fleeing for their lives.

Our nation has a proud history of caring for refugees fleeing war zones. We airlifted thousands of refugees from war torn Syria. We rescued people from Afghanistan. Now once again we are called on to play our part.

The Government has committed to giving sanctuary to at least 200,000 refugees. To make that work, we will need everyone to join in. That’s why I have been pressing Government Ministers to introduce a community refugee scheme. Where anyone with spare room can offer Ukrainian refugees a place to stay.

I am glad that the Government has now agreed to set up the community refugee scheme like the one I have been calling for. It should mean we can speed up the process of ensuring that Ukrainian refugees are looked after and cared for while conflict continues.

Ukraine is suffering hugely from the illegal invasion. It is right that we stand with Ukraine in her darkest hour. To supply the weapons they need to defend themselves. To make it harder for Russia to wage war by imposing sanctions. To provide sanctuary to Ukrainians fleeing the conflict until we hope, God willing, they may, in time, return home.

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