I have been inundated with correspondence from concerned constituents about the situation in Ukraine, which is changing at an incredibly fast pace. I have therefore answered many of the Ukraine-related queries below. I will endeavour to update this page on a regular basis as the situation develops.
Please note, I am in regular contact with the Home Office as the UK rolls out our visa schemes and am receiving regular briefings from NGOs on the ground about the situation.
I will continue to engage with Ministers and relevant Departments to ensure the UK continues to play its part. Please rest assured I am monitoring the situation closely and will continue to do what I can.
Where can I find FCDO advice on travelling to the Ukraine?
The Government is currently advising against all travel to Ukraine
What role are Devon County Council taking?
What role are SHDC taking?
What sanctions has the UK Government put in place to date?
Currently the following sanctions are in place, please note these are being added to regularly and I will continue to update this list
- Sanctioning Russia's Central Bank, banning the Russian State and all Russian companies from raising funds in the UK, and freezing the assets of all Russian banks.
- Shutting off Russian banks' access to the global financial system by blocking access to SWIFT.
- Sanctioning President Putin, his Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, leading oligarchs (such as Roman Abramovich) and hundreds of other individuals, entities and their subsidiaries at the heart of his wicked regime.
- Strengthening export controls against Russia by banning the export of high-end and critical technical equipment and components in sectors including electronics, telecommunications, and aerospace, thereby degrading Russia's military and economic development.
- Taking action to revoke Russia's Most-Favoured-Nation status at the World Trade Organisation.
- Working to prevent Russia from obtaining financing from the leading multilateral financial institutions, including the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.
- Sanctioning members of the Russian Duma and National Security Council for their support for the invasion.
- Banning Aeroflot, Russia's national airline, and all other Russian commercial and private jets from UK airspace. New legislation makes it a criminal offence for any Russian aircraft to fly or land in the UK and gives the Government the ability to detain any aircraft owned by persons connected with Russia, and to remove them from the UK aircraft register.
- Denying access to UK ports to ships owned, controlled, charter of operated by anyone connected to Russia as well as any vessel registered in Russia or flying the Russian flag.
- Imposing new restrictions to cut off wealthy Russians’ access to UK banks.
- Imposing sanctions on Belarus for its complicity in Putin's invasion.
- Extending a Crimea-type embargo to occupied territory in the breakaway Ukrainian republics.
- Intensifying sanctions enforcement, with new powers for law enforcement and a specialised Kleptocracy unit to crack down on companies that breach sanctions.
- Bringing forward measures from the Economic Crime Bill early which strengthen Unexplained Wealth Orders and broaden their scope, cracking down on corrupt elites in the UK.
What military support has the UK put in place?
- The UK has, for a number of years now, worked to support Ukraine's security and defence.
- The UK has trained over 22,000 members of the Ukrainian army through Operation ORBITAL since 2015.
- In recent months the UK has provided Ukraine with over 3,615 new light anti-tank weapons (NLAWs) along with a range of other defensive weapons and non-lethal aid such as body armour.
- The Defence Secretary has said that the UK will shortly start delivering anti-tank Javelin missiles, and that the Government is also exploring the possibility of donating Starstreak high-velocity, man-portable anti-air missiles, which would allow Ukraine to better defend its skies. The decision to supply defensive systems has my full support.
What humanitarian support is the UK giving?
- Total UK aid to Ukraine and the region for the current crisis comes to £395 million, making us the largest humanitarian donor.
- This includes:
- £220m of humanitarian assistance;
- £100m to bolster the Ukrainian economy and reduce Ukraine’s reliance on Russian gas imports;
- £75m for the Ukrainian government budget to mitigate financial pressures created by the invasion.
- The UK is also guaranteeing up to $500m of loans to Ukraine through Multilateral Development Banks.
- The Government is also matching the first £25 million donated by the British public to the Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal, see: https://donation.dec.org.uk/ukraine-humanitarian-appeal
- A Humanitarian Assistance Task Force of 1,000 soldiers is at readiness in the UK to support a humanitarian response in the region should it be needed. Humanitarian Teams from the FCDO are also on the ground in neighbouring countries.
- The UK is also donating 500 mobile generators to Ukraine. These will provide much needed energy to essential facilities across Ukraine.
What can I do to donate?
- All donations should go through the following website: https://donation.dec.org.uk/ukraine-humanitarian-appeal
- There are a number of people and charities across Devon that are collecting donations
- Please note, There should be a balance between donated goods, local procurement and cash support. In Ukraine right now, there is a shortage of certain medical items, but these are not owned by the public and have to be ordered from specialist suppliers. Monetary donations remain the most efficient way to help.
- Read the Government's guidance on what you can do to help here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/ukraine-what-you-can-do-to-help
What is the UK Government doing about reported Discrimination on the Polish Border?
- The UK is committed to the principle of non-discrimination on any grounds, including on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or race. The Foreign Secretary pledged to raise this issue with her Polish counterpart when questioned about it in the House.
What consular support is available for those in the Ukraine?
- The British Embassy in Kyiv has temporarily relocated.
- Embassy staff are operating from the British Embassy office in Lviv. British nationals in Ukraine should heed the FCDO's travel advice for Ukraine.
- FCDO rapid deployment teams have been deployed to countries neighbouring Ukraine to assist UK embassies in supporting British nationals who have crossed Ukraine's borders, including Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Moldova.
What does the UK contribute to NATO?
- The UK spends more in cash terms than any NATO member, other than the US, on defence. The UK is Europe’s largest contributor to NATO. We have deployed more troops to NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence than any other Ally.
- The British Army leads the NATO Battlegroup in Estonia and, because of this ongoing crisis, is doubling the number of UK personnel based there and sending additional equipment, including tanks and armoured fighting vehicles.
- The UK also has troops stationed in Poland as part of NATO's enhanced Forward Presence there.
- Royal Marines from 45 Commando have also deployed to Poland to support the Polish Armed Forces with joint exercises, contingency planning and capacity building in the face of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. This support is being offered on a bilateral basis and is not part of the UK’s offer to NATO.
- Additional aircraft have also been posted to our base in Cyprus to patrol the skies with NATO Allies in Eastern Europe, and UK warships are conducting patrols in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea alongside NATO Allies from Canada, Italy, Spain and Turkey.
Why isn’t Ukraine a NATO member?
- Each and every nation has a sovereign right to choose its own security arrangements. Countries choose NATO; NATO does not choose them.
Why are we not putting a no-fly zone in place?
- A no-fly zone is somewhat difficult to implement in a hostile airspace against a peer adversary.
- We need to have our eyes wide open to the reality that in such an event NATO jets would, not just possibly but most certainly probably, come into a combat situation with Russian jets, and the risk of miscalculation, escalation and the triggering of article 5 could not be understated in those circumstances.
- No-fly zones come with all sorts of problems. I understand exactly why the Ukrainian ambassador is asking for this, but we need to be clear that it could well trigger an article 5 moment and we need to be clear-eyed about that reality in considering it.
What happens if I travel to Ukraine to help fight?
- The FCDO advise against all travel to Ukraine and is recommending that British nationals still in Ukraine should leave immediately if it is safe to do so.
- I understand people’s desire to help in this terrible situation and I would highlight that the Ukrainian Embassy to the UK has set up a special fund to provide humanitarian assistance to Ukraine’s civilian population and to purchase medical and military supplies for Ukraine’s army. It is possible to donate at withukraine.org.
- I would dissuade any Brit from travelling to Ukraine, whatever the reason.
What impact is the war going to have on our food supply?
- Ukraine is a major producer of grain and Russia's invasion of the country is bound to severely impede these exports.
- The UK has a highly resilient food supply chain, built on strong domestic production and diverse sources of foreign supply.
What about the attacks on Nuclear Power Plants?
- Attacks against civilian nuclear sites are prohibited under the Geneva Conventions. An International Atomic Energy Agency resolution condemning Russia's assaults on nuclear facilities in Ukraine was passed on 3 March.
- The UK is using all legal and political means at its disposal to further address these acts, including via the UN Security Council.
What is the UK Government doing to help Ukrainian Refugees
- I am in regular contact with the Home Office as the UK rolls out our visa schemes to provide eligible Ukrainians with safe passage to the UK. Let me assure you that capacity is expanding to meet demand.
- The Home Secretary has announced changes to the Ukraine Family Scheme, open to those with existing family ties in the UK. Ukrainian nationals with passports no longer need to go to a Visa Application Centre to give their biometrics before they come to the UK. They will be able to get permission to come to the UK, fully online from wherever they are, and will be able to give their biometrics once they come to the UK. On arrival, individuals will receive a six-month entry stamp that evidences their right to work, study and claim benefits in the UK. Once in the UK, individuals will be able to extend their stay for up to 36 months.
- The Visa Application Centres across Europe will therefore be able to focus their efforts on helping Ukrainians without passports, or who are vulnerable or may struggle to use online systems. We have increased the capacity at those Centres to 13,000 appointments per week. A small Visa Application Centre presence will soon be established in Arras, to provide appointments for Ukrainians referred there by Border Force officers in Calais.
- The Government has also announced details on the Homes for Ukraine scheme (more details below), which allows UK residents to sponsor a Ukrainian refugee.
- Security and biometrics checks are a fundamental part of the UK’s visa approval process. Given the acute security challenges in Ukraine, Russian efforts to infiltrate and merge with Ukrainian forces, the presence of extremists on the ground and Putin’s willingness to use violence on British soil, it is right that the Government continues to protect the public by maintaining these vital checks. This is a policy that has been retained consistently throughout all emergency evacuations, including in Afghanistan.
- Find the latest information on UK visa support for Ukrainians here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/support-for-family-members-of-british-natio…
How do I register to house a Ukrainian family?
- Homes for Ukraine – Homes for Ukraine – Local Sponsorship Scheme for Ukraine (campaign.gov.uk)
- A full list of FAQ’s can be found on the above website