I’d planned on writing a very different column this week, but while I am a local politician and this is a local newspaper, it would be hard to justify not discussing Ukraine. The reality is that the consequences of Putin’s war are global. It’s a conflict which affects every one of us and there are things we can all do to help.
The world is an increasingly interconnected place, it should come as no surprise that in a vibrant multicultural town like Crawley, Ukrainians form part of our community. On Sunday, I was amongst those who joined with this community in Queens Square to call for peace. These are our neighbours, our colleagues, the parents of our children’s schoolfriends, they’re a part of our town and it’s their family who are currently on the frontline, holding Putin back.
For all the powerlessness we may feel as individuals, the courage of the Ukrainian people has inspired the world, with crowdfunding donating millions online to humanitarian and military aid, with hackers being actively recruited across borders by the Ukrainian Government to help on the cyber battlelines, and with increasing numbers signing-up to fight in the international legion.
With nuclear threats now being openly made, other states have to act with care, but that doesn’t leave them powerless. International aid has provided a lifeline for Ukraine and the impact of the economic sanctions and global shunning of Russia is already being felt and will only grow over time.
Still, there is more that the UK can and must do and which we as citizens have a duty to ask of our government. It needs to be made clear to Russian Oligarchs who use Britain as a base and have influence in the Kremlin that so long as Putin continues his war, they will find no welcome in our country. We must also ensure that as Ukrainians continue the fight on the frontline, they know that their families will find a haven in the UK until it is safe to return. These commitments we must secure from our government, and hold them to it.