On the morning of Thursday February 24th 2022, president Putin launched his illegal invasion of Ukraine. Peace in Europe was shattered in a matter of hours. Months of military build ups across the border culminated in the full-scale invasion of a peaceful and sovereign nation. Six months and over 6 million displaced people later, Ukraine is heroically fighting on, led by their extraordinary leader President Zelensky.
The United Kingdom is leading the way in the global defence of a sovereign Ukraine. £2.3 billion has been pledged in military operations to aid Ukraine this year, which includes lethal aid. A UK-led training programme for Ukrainians has been launched and rocket systems have been deployed to provide support against long-range artillery strikes. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has visited Kyiv several times to send a clear message – the UK stands with Ukraine. His outstanding global leadership has been honoured in Ukraine. As the UK welcomes a new Prime Minister next week, robust support of Ukraine will continue.
£400 million in humanitarian aid has been pledged to help the Ukrainian people. In Ukraine and Poland, where the majority of the displaced Ukrainians are located, the UK has pledged £15 million to support up to 200,000 of the most vulnerable refugees. In April, I visited to meet the Governor of Pomerania and work with the AK Foundation. I help led to build a playground for children refugees alongside the champion boxer, Amir Khan. Seeing first-hand the welcome and support given by Poland was inspiring and heart-warming.
Locally, I am extremely proud of the generosity of the people of Dover and Deal. So many of my constituents have opened their homes up to Ukrainians in their time of need. The Dover outreach centre has helped hosts and guests make sure they are settled. My team has worked tirelessly to escalate urgent cases with the Home Office and ensure that refugees have been able to join their host families in our community. As we move forward with the next stage of the Homes for Ukraine scheme, my office will continue working to support a number of refugees, including those remaining with host families.
While the cost to the people of Ukraine has been devastating, there have also been direct implications here in the UK. The strain on energy and grain supplies, particularly acute coming out of the pandemic, has had a significant impact on household finances. This cost-of-living crisis is causing a great deal of worry. But it is important that Putin’s Russia is held responsible for his actions and so we must stand firm for Ukraine.
As we marked the Ukrainian Independence day on Wednesday 24th August, the UK will continue to provide necessary support and refuge and also be determined to stay the course until Russia are defeated and Ukraine is free once more – Slava Ukraini.