JILL MORTIMER: The world will unite to ensure Putin pays the price for war

I want to use my column this week to address in more detail the current ongoing situation in Ukraine and the UK Government’s response – both in terms of sanctioning Russia for its indefensible invasion of a sovereign and democratic state, and in relation to providing aid to Ukraine, and sanctuary to the Ukrainian people fleeing this unnecessary conflict.

Firstly, I fully support the Prime Minister in his announcement of the toughest set of sanctions Russia has ever seen. The Government has frozen all Russian bank assets, locked strategic Russian companies out of the UK’s financial markets and committed to preventing the Russian Central Bank from deploying its international reserves in ways that impact our sanctions. In a joint statement by the UK and other International partners, restrictive economic measures have gone even further, committing to ensuring selected Russian banks are removed from the SWIFT messaging system – disconnecting them from the international financial system.

In addition to these economic sanctions, the UK has announced £40 million of urgent humanitarian aid, increasing the aid pledged to Ukraine this year to £140 million. Further British defensive military aid has also been announced and I am pleased that following announcements from the UK regarding Aeroflot, European airspace is now closed to all Russian flights.

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There has sadly been some disinformation spreading about visa routes for Ukrainians fleeing the war that has been brought to their doorsteps by President Putin. The Government has been clear that it stands with the people of Ukraine, and there is support in place for family members of British nationals in Ukraine as well as Ukrainian nationals, to help them seek refuge in our country.

Temporary visa concessions have been introduced for family members of British nationals who usually live in Ukraine – individuals can apply via the temporary Visa Application Centre in Lviv, and there are currently centres operating in Poland, Romania, Hungary and Moldova for those who are able to safely travel. Support has also been put in place to help Ukrainian nationals currently in the UK extend their existing visas, without having to leave and re-apply from overseas.

The Government will continue to work with its partners in Europe and across the world to ensure that Putin pays the price for his actions. I join my colleagues and the Government in condemning this brutal and illegal attack on innocent people. There has been some distressing reports filtering through this week and our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by this conflict.