When it seems as though the barbarism of Russian forces in Ukraine cannot get more inhuman, last week an airstrike hit a maternity hospital in the city of Mariupol, resulting in the deaths of three people and devastation to countless others.
It is clear that the aim of Russia is to bomb the Ukrainians into submission. They are evidently continuing to underestimate its people.
It was a privilege to be in the House of Commons to watch the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, address Parliament. His words, reminiscent of Churchill’s during the Second World War, remind us of the importance of freedom.
They also serve as a call for further action. The UK is phasing out all imports of Russian oil and oil products by the end of the year, even though already less than 3 per cent of our energy is sourced from them. This will cut off a key source of funding for the Putin regime while limiting the impact on consumers.
The UK is also continuing to sanction prominent Russians with ties to the Russian leader. In an estimated £15 billion hit, a significant number of further individuals have been targeted in recent days; the most high-profile being Roman Abramovich, whom as I write has yet to be targeted by the US or the EU.
This country has frozen £258 billion in Russian bank assets; more than any other country as we work with our allies to implement crushing sanctions on the Putin regime.
Britain has been a long-standing ally of Ukraine, having already trained over 22,000 troops under Operation Orbital since 2015.
As a member of the UK Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee, at our evidence session last week I questioned the Foreign Secretary about the importance of stopping Putin in his tracks. He and his invasion must fail and be seen to fail.
This country’s generosity towards the people of Ukraine has been shown not only in terms of Government humanitarian aid, which totals almost £400 million, but also in what people have donated to charity appeals.
A number of Crawley residents have contacted me asking how they can help with supporting those fleeing the conflict.
The Ukraine Family Scheme, developed in close consultation with Ukrainian leaders and the diaspora community, is being updated so that Ukrainians with passports can get permission to come to the UK online, no longer needing to physically visit Visa Application Centres, which can focus efforts on helping those without passports.
While I am mindful of the fact that many Ukrainians will want to return and rebuild their country when Russia has been defeated, it has been announced that details regarding the humanitarian assistance will be published shortly.
Henry Smith MP