Friday 25 February 2022
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is an unprovoked assault on a peaceful and sovereign nation. There can be no justification for the action that President Putin has taken. He has lied repeatedly to the Russian people and to the world about the situation in Ukraine. Mr Putin has falsely asserted time and again that Ukraine poses a security risk to his country, but the truth is that as an independent and peaceful European nation, Ukraine has sought to choose its own destiny, free from the domination of Russia, and who can blame it. There have been some people though, including in our own country, who claim that by seeking a closer trading and defence relationship with the rest of Europe, and perhaps by one day joining NATO or the EU, Ukraine has in some way provoked Russia. Such an argument seeks to justify Putin’s military offensive, something for which there can be no excuse. Western leaders, including our own Prime Minister, have repeatedly offered the path of peace to Russia, but it is clear now that he was always determined for war. Those who make Russia’s case must recognise that they are unwittingly little more than sock puppets for a corrupt and criminal regime.
President Putin’s objective in this war that he has started is not limited to a small number of military targets or a specific region within the country. He told the Russian people in a television address on 24 February that he ‘will strive for the demilitarisation and denazification of Ukraine.’ To compare Ukraine to Nazi Germany is, in itself, highly offensive, but this would also require the conquest and subjugation of the whole country, something that the people of the Ukraine will fiercely resist, but which could lead to substantial loss of life. It is terrible to think of the millions of Ukrainians who were until last Thursday, peacefully going about their business, but now have to prepare to protect their families from a full-blown military invasion.
The United Kingdom not only stands in support with Ukraine but will do all it can to assist them in their struggle. UK military equipment is being used by the Ukrainian armed forces to resist the Russian attack, and we will continue to do all we can to supply them with the resources they need. The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has set out that we will be taking additional measures to impose sanctions on Russia, that will affect its economy for many years to come. Alongside our allies, we are imposing the largest and most severe package of sanctions that Russia has ever seen, hitting more than a hundred companies and oligarchs at the heart of the Russian economy with asset freezes worth many hundreds of billions of pounds. Through this package we are dealing a severe blow to Russia’s economy, hobbling Russia’s military-industrial complex and personally damaging Putin’s inner circle of corrupt oligarchs.