As your Member of Parliament, I am fortunate to meet extraordinary individuals from all walks of life. These include some of the remarkable Ukrainian people who have not only left an indelible mark on our hearts but also enriched our community since being hosted here in South Shropshire from around a year ago.
The United Kingdom has demonstrated our strong commitment to Ukraine, recognising the importance of standing by the side of their people, suffering such appalling circumstances.
This week, the Prime Minister hosted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at Chequers, where they discussed military aid ahead of an anticipated Ukrainian counter-offensive.
Our government has allocated a substantial £4.6 billion of military assistance to Ukraine, making us the second largest provider after the United States. This includes further commitments made this week to longer range strike capabilities, which will help limit Russian resupply to its invasion forces. The UK already spearheads a programme training 30,000 Ukrainian soldiers, which is to be extended to train pilots.
This conflict looks set to continue for some time. But the degradation of Russian military capability has been brought about by the courage and determination of Ukrainian forces, empowered by their resolve to resist an invading force. But materiel from Western allies has helped significantly and may hasten the end if the Ukrainian counter-offensive is able to maintain momentum.
Meanwhile President Zelensky arrived days after the UK had hosted the Eurovision contest, on behalf of Ukraine, in the spiritual home of pop in Liverpool. This served as a powerful platform to showcase remarkable solidarity among young and old music fans across Europe.
At a local level the impact of Ukrainian individuals here in South Shropshire cannot be overstated. With some having lived here now for over a year, our guests are becoming integral members of our community, working alongside us, with many of their children learning in our schools. In 2022 alone, a total of 238,562 visas were granted across all UK visa routes for Ukrainian nationals, most of whom are women and children.
The UK’s commitment to supporting Ukraine remains unwavering. In this there is strong common interest among the community of nations as shown at the Council of Europe meeting on Tuesday held in Iceland when the Prime Minister joined other leaders across 48 nations of Europe in sending as signal that the Russian hostility is and will continue to be resisted.