Image by Karollyne Hubert on Unsplash
The Protocol Committee
There is no doubt that you are already aware of the recent invasion of Ukraine by President Putin and Russian government forces. This invasion is a violation of Ukrainian sovereignty, as well as an attack on human rights and a peaceful democratic way of life. It must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. At the time of writing, the UN has reported that 227 Ukrainian civilians including children are confirmed to have been killed. However, the Ukrainian emergency services estimate civilian deaths to be closer to 2000. The number of total casualties in this conflict is significantly higher and across the country, Ukrainians are no longer safe in their own homes. It is crucial to acknowledge that President Putin’s actions do not represent Russian civilians, thousands of whom are facing arbitrary detention for protesting against the war.
In recent days, the severity and aggression of attacks on Ukrainian cities by Russian government forces has increased significantly. There are fears of an increased level of violence and Amnesty International has accused Russia of committing a war crime by using cluster munitions in a deadly attack on a Ukrainian residential area. In particular, the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv has been besieged by shelling for days. These attacks have become increasingly indiscriminate and directly caused civilian deaths. The strategically important port city of Maripol is reported as being “near to a humanitarian catastrophe” by the city’s deputy major after continuous Russian military attacks. Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, is also under siege, with a key TV tower destroyed in a recent Russian missile attack. The Ukrainian people have been resolute in the face of these attacks and the country continues to be led by President Zelenskyy.
The UK government must do more in light of these events. It is not enough to simply say that we stand with the Ukrainian people. The UK, US and EU must now face up to the challenge and take action to stop this illegal invasion and loss of life. Another key way the UK government could do more is by committing to helping Ukrainian refugees who are now estimated to number over 1 million. The countries that neighbour Ukraine, are already facing the challenge of providing the necessary support for people who have been forced to flee for their lives. After facing criticism, the UK government has relaxed rules for Ukrainian who currently have relatives in the UK and have extended a refugee scheme. However, this is not enough and it does not provide support for those who need it now.
The invasion of Ukraine has triggered condemnation across the world, leading to protests, and calls for a stronger response. In St Andrews, Amnesty International and Divest Borders, alongside other societies, held a well-attended vigil on Monday night. The messages delivered by the speakers were clear: Keep the conversations going, stand in solidarity with Ukraine and take action where you can. If you would like to do more, some options include supporting humanitarian and refugee organisations, writing to your MP or joining protests demanding support for refugees and tougher actions against President Putin’s government. As a global community, we must come together in solidarity with the Ukrainian people and other communities affected by President Putin’s aggression.
Please remember that there is support available from places such as from the University’s student services.