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Ukraine

Volume 722: debated on Tuesday 8 November 2022

The Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary, after coming into their roles, made their first foreign counterpart calls to President Zelensky and Foreign Minister Kuleba of Ukraine, respectively. Last week, at the G7 in Germany, the Secretary of State, with other leaders, expressed solidarity with the Ukrainian people and condemned Russia’s outrageous invasion of Ukraine. Our total economic and humanitarian support to Ukraine has been more than £1.5 billion, with vital humanitarian aid helping more than one in four Ukrainians.

This week, a group of my constituents will journey to Ukraine to deliver urgently needed humanitarian support for what will be a very cold winter. They are not alone, as great swathes of the British public have done extraordinary acts of kindness to help Ukrainians in desperate need. Will my hon. Friend please commend my constituent Rob Scammell from North Walsham for what he has done, and comment on the steps his Department is taking to help Ukrainians in the light of Russian attacks that have damaged civilian heating and water supplies?

I join my hon. Friend in thanking Rob Scammell and others who are providing important aid to Ukraine. Although our strong advice is that individuals do not travel to Ukraine and find other ways to support Ukrainian civilians, I want to put on record my thanks. Such humanitarian aid is very significant, and electricity generators are also being sent to Ukraine to help people keep warm over the winter. This reflects the tremendous spirit of generosity within the British public, which my hon. Friend, who I think was the first Member of Parliament to receive a Ukrainian family into his home, also demonstrates. I thank him for that too.

Almost daily, we see Putin’s army targeting civilians: the young, the elderly and the vulnerable. I am very proud, as I am sure we all are in this House, that the UK is the European country providing the most support—from not only the Government but, as we have heard, teams of volunteers. Will the Minister welcome the work done by Bags of Joy in my Rugby constituency, which is sending bags of treats and goodies to some of those affected by this most appalling war?

I join my hon. Friend in thanking Bags of Joy for sending those products to Ukraine, which is good to see. I think the generosity from his Rugby constituents shows that Ukraine has many friends and Russia in this instance has none.

Part and parcel of our support for Ukraine is how we look after Ukrainian refugees. I know of examples in the north of Scotland of their finding the bureaucracy involved in accessing universal credit very difficult. Although Work and Pensions is not his Department, does the Minister agree that a one-point telephone number and a dedicated team in that Department would help sort out this problem?

The hon. Member is right to point out the amazing scale of the issue, with more than 140,000 Ukrainians having received visas and living in the UK, but I will take away his helpful suggestion and we will see whether that is in place.

Whatever Americans vote for today, I hope they stick with supporting Ukraine over the next few months. May I ask a question I have asked the Minister before—so I hope he knows the answer by now—about the Abramovich money? Chelsea was sold for £3.5 billion many months ago. Has that money yet got to Ukraine, and if not, why not?

I am very pleased to be able to provide an answer. The money is still frozen in a UK bank account. The administrative work is being done and a licence is being applied for, but we hope it is on the start of its journey to Ukraine to help the people where they need help.

The Minister will know the resolute support across the country, and across the House, for Ukraine. The people of Ukraine should know that and, indeed, Vladimir Putin should know that. However, there are unfortunately some siren voices suggesting otherwise, including from the far right of the US Republicans, and this is hugely dangerous. What are the Minister, the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister doing to challenge those who would give encouragement and succour to Putin in his barbarous actions?

On all three fronts—diplomatic, economic and military—I think the whole world has come together. That was made very clear by the Foreign Secretary at the G7 last week. Looking at some of the statements about solidarity at COP today, I think Russia has a very long border and very few friends. We are stronger because we are together, and I think that is very clear.