Ukraine War: Volodymyr Zelensky's speech in Westminster Hall was a historic moment and the UK is united in its support – Ian Murray
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This famous hall has been at the centre of British history for nine centuries, and has echoed to the sound of speeches from Popes and global leaders like Charles de Gaulle, Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama. It has heard oratory of historic significance, and the words of the Ukrainian president can now be added to that collection.
There was the recognition of the “spirit and ideals of these great islands” and the defiance of “freedom will win – oppression will lose”, but also a thank you to Britain. It truly was a speech for the ages and reminded me of my time in Kyiv, on an election observation mission in 2018.
And it was a stark reminder of the daily battles for survival taking place on our doorstep. With so much personal hardship at home, the sacrifices of the Ukrainian people can too easily slip from public consciousness.
This week, I spoke to Ukrainian MP, Oleksii Movchan, to learn more about the current situation and to be informed of UK companies still operating in Russia. He told me of companies that are not only still operating in Russia but are aiding this brutal war.
There are some things which cross political divides, and our determination to support the Ukrainian people remains steadfast. The UK is united in its support, and Nato allies continue to move together to provide the backing the nation needs.
The first package of military assistance – tanks, artillery, infantry vehicles, ammunition and now Brimstone missiles – has complete backing in Westminster. We also need a long-term strategy for military, economic and diplomatic assistance through 2023 and beyond.
As the first anniversary of his invasion approaches, Putin must be made to understand that things will get worse for him. As Keir Starmer told parliament yesterday, we don’t just hope for Ukrainian victory, “we believe in it”.
Keir previously represented victims of Serbian aggression at the International Court of Justice as a barrister, and the hope remains that those who have committed war crimes in Ukraine will be sent to The Hague. In the meantime, we continue to support the people of Ukraine – a challenge which Edinburgh, Scotland and the UK have proudly risen to.
Since the war in Ukraine began, more than 22,000 people with a Scottish sponsor have arrived here. And for those who cannot directly help refugees, the British Red Cross has a crisis appeal that people can donate to.
In the last few days, sadly, the Red Cross – and other charities – have had to launch new emergency appeals following the devastating earthquakes in Syria and Turkey. As I write this, more than 12,000 people have been confirmed dead – but that number, tragically, will soar in the hours and days ahead. Charities on the ground are providing first aid and helping people to safety. Donations can be made at www.redcross.org.uk or via the Disasters Emergency Committee, which has sprung into action. Just £10 provides blankets to keep two people warm.
These humanitarian crises are causing unimaginable misery. I know people in Edinburgh, as always, are determined to help in any way they can.
Ian Murray is Labour MP for Edinburgh South