st georges hall ukraine
st georges hall ukraine

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is an unprovoked, unjustifiable outrage and a violation of international law and is already causing tragic consequences.  There can be no justification for it and the bellicose threats to NATO members such as the Baltic states and to our Scandinavian partners in Sweden and Finland are unforgivable. The clear threat to unleash nuclear war in Putin’s speech declaring war on Ukraine is equally unacceptable.

The Labour Party stands with our allies and partners in condemning this act of aggression in the strongest possible terms. We are in complete solidarity with the Ukrainian people as they resist this assault on their sovereignty. I was pleased to see Liverpool show its own solidarity on Thursday evening when landmarks were lit up in the blue and yellow Ukrainian colours and I know there are many people worried about friends and families who live there. Seeing the news reports from the country over the last few days, with the shelling of residential areas and ordinary people fleeing, has been terrible.

The toughest  possible sanctions must be taken against all those linked to Vladimir Putin and against the Russian government’s interests, working in partnership with our allies to ensure the Putin regime faces the severest consequences. The sanctions already announced by the government are only a start, but they don’t go far enough.

Labour has been calling for action against Russian money and influence in the UK for more than a decade, but the inaction from the Tories has helped emboldened the Putin regime to continue to act without compunction across the world, including on British soil. The Government must now bring forward the urgent measures that Labour have repeatedly called for, ending the impunity that oligarchs have enjoyed, reforming Companies House to crack down on the shell companies that hide suspect wealth, introducing an Overseas Entities Bill to lift the veil on property ownership, and finally bringing forward the Economic Crime Bill that has been repeatedly delayed by a Government and a ruling party that itself has taken big donations from Russian oligarchs.

We must also immediately facilitate access to the UK for Ukrainians fleeing the war who are even now escaping into mainland Europe. Many are women and children fleeing for their lives. It is appalling the Foreign office Minister Kevin Foster tweeted that they should apply for seasonal work permits to pick fruit whilst the reality is that the UK has not waived the usual visa arrangements, which simply cannot be met.  This must change and fast.

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