Like many in Clydebank and across West Dunbartonshire, my thoughts have been with the people of Ukraine as they face the tyranny and aggression of the Russian regime’s latest military onslaught.
As I write this, Ukrainians have faced consecutive days of bombing as tanks roll-in following the full-scale invasion launched by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.
Whilst this escalation hasn’t come as a surprise; having previously been on the Commons Defence Select Committee for more than four years – this appalling act of war by the Kremlin has been no less shocking to witness.
During a statement in parliament this week, I urged the Prime Minister to act swiftly in working with our international allies to impose the strongest possible sanctions on the Putin regime. I also spoke out calling for action to tackle the flood of illicit Russian finance and dirty money which has been allowed to flow through the City of London for far too long now.
The UK government mustn’t be complacent in its response to this conflict. Too many men, women and children have already lost their lives – and many more innocent civilians will die unless Putin’s military advance is halted.
The worsening humanitarian crisis is worrying, with the EU Commission estimating that more than 7 million Ukrainians will be displaced from their homes. We cannot turn our backs on those families fleeing tyranny. I will be working cross-party with my parliamentary colleagues to press the Home Secretary to show some decency and ensure safe routes to the UK are put in place for Ukrainians seeking refuge.
For any of my constituents who have friends, family or colleagues stuck in Ukraine – please know that you can contact me as your Member of Parliament and I’ll do everything I can to help loved ones get to safety. I can assist in liaising with the Home Office for necessary visa documentation, the FCDO for safe travel advice, and put those in need of humanitarian assistance in contact with organisations which can help.
The people of Ukraine have acted with remarkable courage and determination in response to Putin’s unprovoked attack on their nation’s sovereignty. I have been deeply moved by the messages of support and solidarity I have seen from people in West Dunbartonshire and beyond for all those facing the atrocities of this senseless conflict.
Scotland stands with Ukraine, and we are ready to play our part in providing aid, sanctuary and safe refuge for those who need it.
In West Dunbartonshire we are no strangers to the horrors of war. Our communities were devastated by the Blitz bombings of the Luftwaffe. It is why we are so sure that Putin’s war of aggression cannot be tolerated. And it’s why humanity, freedom and peace must prevail.
This article was written for publication in the Clydebank Post.