Vladimir Putin must end his war on Ukraine - Lorna Slater
That same day I laid a wreath at the Edinburgh Volunteer Organisations Council service in commemoration of those who have lost their lives. It was a very moving ceremony. We fell silent, reflecting about the past year and grieving the immense loss. But as we did, the fighting continued.
The guns are still firing, the shells are still exploding, the war rages on.
The past year has been horrific for the people of Ukraine. They have endured trauma and grief that most of us can scarcely imagine.
Thousands have been killed, with one report putting the death toll at 100,000 civilians. All of those people had names and lives, and people that they cared about and who cared about them.
Every single one of the victims and survivors deserves justice for the horrors that have been inflicted.
It didn’t have to be this way. None of them had to die. The blame for those deaths lies squarely with Vladimir Putin and his war machine. He has unleashed hell on his neighbours and must never be forgiven.
Yet, even in the face of such pain and brutality, Ukraine has not lost hope.
The Kremlin’s plan was for Ukrainian independence to end quickly and quietly. That plan has failed. Despite the awful toll, the resistance of Ukrainian people has held Russian forces at bay.
It is the voices and joy of Ukrainian children that will let Putin know he has failed. As long as they have a future, loved by those around them, he can not win.
Our hearts go out to all those who have lost loved ones and friends, who have seen their world upended, and for whom life will never be the same again.
There are many Ukrainians who have come to Scotland for safety and sanctuary. You don’t need me to imagine what last week’s anniversary will mean to them. Or how every day, every news TV bulletin, every newspaper photograph from their home country rips through their heart.
Even if the bullets and the bombs were to stop tomorrow, it will take years to rebuild what has been lost. It’s not just the bricks and mortar or the rubble that once great buildings have become, it is also the lifeline infrastructure that Russian forces have targeted.
The World Bank puts the cost of rebuilding at $500 billion. Scotland must play its part, but we also know there are many lives and dreams that can never be rebuilt.
One year ago millions came together to show their solidarity. Communities and governments from around the world offered their support and resources. That unity is every bit as vital now as it was then.
That is why we must recommit to doing what we can to help our Ukrainian friends achieve peace and freedom. Today and every day, the Scottish Greens, the Scottish Government and the people of Scotland will stand firmly in solidarity with Ukraine.
Lorna Slater is the minister for green skills, circular economy and biodiversity