Over the last few weeks the world has changed. We have all watched in horror as almost two thousand miles away, in Ukraine, a country full of people going about their daily routine, doing the DIY, planning holidays and wondering how they could afford the daily shop switched to life in a war zone.
President Putin’s attack on Ukraine is an attack on democracy and a grave violation of international law and the UN charter. He is invading and killing people in a sovereign country that Russia itself guaranteed to respect.
Britain has a long tradition of standing up to tyrants like Putin – as a country that believes in freedom, democracy, the rule of law and the right of countries to choose their own future. These are the values Ukrainians are bravely fighting for now and we must help them with further military assistance and other forms of support.
We are all seeing the pictures on TV and social media, and we all feel a similar sense of anger and desperation at the human misery, killing and destruction as Putin’s invasion gets ever more brutal. It’s a normal human response to feel like you need to do something, to step in and help.
Even when we see and hear of such inhumanity; it’s then that real humanity comes forward. Locally people have banded together to collect vital items needed by families and soldiers on the front line – whether that’s boxes of toothpaste, medicines and first aid kits or sweets for children to help them remember amidst the upheaval and devastation around them that they are still children.
It might seem trivial collecting items and donating money to charity, but this is a way for everyday people to say we stand with Ukraine and we support the Ukrainian people in the very dark times that they face. I can assure you – from speaking over the weekend to Ukrainians trapped in their cities by Russian shelling – people there are deeply thankful for our UK support and dedication to helping them during what is one of the biggest humanitarian crises to hit Europe in modern times.
I’m also in awe of the massive bravery of the Ukrainians who are so deeply determined to resist Russia, whether as fighters or civilians. I know from being in Kyiv in January just before Putin invaded, how vital our UK military assistance has been for Ukraine in defending itself – which is why the Government has had our full Labour support for this help, and I have led the case in the Commons urging them to do still more.
It’s clear that Ukraine is determined to fight for the freedom to decide their own future as a prosperous, modern, democratic country choosing to link up with the West, not be controlled by Russia.
It is just such a successful Ukraine that is the greatest threat to Putin and his ruling Russian elite. People in Kyiv told me then that ‘Western unity is Ukraine’s best defence’. They need our unity and solidarity now more than ever, and they need to know they have staunch allies in the West in fighting for their democracy over dictatorship.
You can donate to the Disasters Emergency Committee Appeal online at www.dec.org.uk there is also the local Support Ukraine group which has a collection point for essential items at Cortonwood Morrisons.