I condemn, in the strongest possible terms, President Putin’s unprovoked and unjustifiable invasion of Ukraine. My thoughts are with the families of those who have died, the injured and the wider Ukrainian people who are showing exceptional courage. My thoughts are also with the people of Russia and, in particular, those who dissent from what is being done in their name.
Putin’s violation of international law breaks multiple treaties and commitments. I support the hardest possible sanctions against his regime. I welcome the sanctions that the UK Government has already brought forward. These include against oligarchs, freezing the assets of Russia’s state bank and the removal of some Russian banks from SWIFT, the global financial artery that allows the rapid transfer of money across borders. While these have already had a significant impact on the Russian economy, I want to see these measures strengthened further still.
I welcome the UK’s military support to Ukraine. I support the reinforcement of NATO members on the Eastern flank. Since I was elected to Parliament in 1983, I have backed Labour’s commitment to NATO. Standing together with those who share our same values enhances our collective defence. Putin’s attack will have long-term implications for European security.
We must focus on the increasingly desperate humanitarian situation. I have supported Labour’s calls for the government to do more. Millions of Ukrainians are now seeking sanctuary, we must do our bit. While the government have listened to some of our concerns, I remain worried that there are significant gaps in the system and delays in the delivery of policy. I want to see the government match the spirit of members of the public in Newcastle and across the country who have shown solidarity and generosity.
These are exceptional circumstances, our European neighbours are fleeing violence as refugees, our response needs to be generous. We should also offer help to those countries neighbouring Ukraine who are most immediately affected. I have tabled a Written Parliamentary Question to the Foreign Secretary asking her what steps she is taking to provide humanitarian assistance to the countries neighbouring Ukraine in relation to refugees.
Ukraine has the right to choose its own future. We must support the Ukrainian people in their fight against unprovoked aggression. I really do fear for the future and please feel free to contact me further as events unfold. For the avoidance of any doubt, I unequivocally support the Leader of the Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer, and the Labour frontbench position on this.