Thank you for contacting me about the ongoing invasion of Ukraine. I am both deeply saddened by the reports surfacing each day of deaths as a result of Russia’s actions, and concerned that without a strong response this situation will further escalate.
Therefore I believe it is absolutely vital that we stand firmly against this act of aggression and show Putin that these actions will be challenged with the strongest possible sanctions.
It is important to bear in mind that when the Soviet Union collapsed, Britain, Russia and the United States made a solemn agreement with Ukraine: in exchange for giving up their nuclear weapons, Ukraine’s security was to be guaranteed. And its sovereignty would be respected.
Sheffield has a long tradition of standing up for the rights of people to self-determination. We also have a long history of solidarity with the Ukrainian people, through our twinning with Donetsk.
Myself and the entire Labour Party stand resolute in our support of Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity. Only the people of Ukraine have the democratic right to determine their own political destiny and they have clearly spoken in favour of a democratic future.
Russia’s invasion is an appalling assault on a free and democratic country.
Putin’s action follows years of interference since Ukraine, with other former Soviet states, declared its independence in 1990 and began to build relations with the rest of Europe.
Since 2014 the conflict in Eastern Ukraine sponsored by the Kremlin has destroyed homes and communities, killing more than 14,000 people.
Our twin city Donetsk has become a war zone. Now my thoughts go out to people across Ukraine as they face this shocking and unprovoked attack on their country.
I don’t know how events will unfold in the hours and days ahead but, working alongside our NATO allies, we must provide them with the arms that they need to resist the invasion.
With the international community, we must take the toughest possible sanctions against Putin’s regime; ending the UK’s role as a safe haven for the money that Putin and his fellow bandits gained by stealing from the Russian people.
Labour has led calls for the ‘hardest possible sanctions’ against Russia, including ‘excluding Russia from financial mechanisms like SWIFT and banning trade in Russian sovereign debt’ – and we’re pleased to see that there has been movement for action over the weekend.
It must not stop there. The influence of corrupt Russian money must end in UK. Despite warning after warning, the Government has failed to act, leaving Britain as the destination of choice for oligarchs to hide the wealth they have stolen from the Russian people.
Alongside economic sanctions, we must also isolate Russia – and its client state in Belarus – through a comprehensive boycott. We welcome the action of sports and cultural organisations that have acted already and call for Russia’s exclusion from the FIFA World Cup.
In doing so I will also be supporting those brave Russians who have protested against Putin’s actions – as well as those Belarussians who have stood up to Alexander Lukashenko’s brutal rule.
The unfolding tragedy in Ukraine has seen increasing numbers of people, primarily women and children, fleeing the conflict into neighbouring countries and we must help.
Ukraine is under fire. People are fleeing war. Yet the Home Office are still applying normal visa restrictions such as on salaries, English language, and only close relatives. I have been appalled by the Government’s unwillingness to offer help, which was summed up by the disgraceful comment from the Immigration Minister over the weekend that those fleeing the war and seeking refuge could apply for seasonal fruit-picking visas – which shames our country.
This isn’t solidarity with Ukraine, it is immoral. The Government must urgently provide a simple sanctuary route to the UK for all who need it.
As the UK’s first City of Sanctuary, Sheffield will welcome refugees from the conflict and the Government must remove the barriers to them coming.
We must take a united stand both at home and abroad, if we want to ensure that this isn’t the era of oligarch impunity.
I can assure you that as your representative in Parliament I will be supporting all efforts from across the House and internationally to protect the Ukrainian people and the sovereignty of the Ukrainian state.