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ARTICLE: Russian Sanctions Must Go Further and Faster

It will not surprise readers that the most pressing issue at Westminster just now is the horrific and unwarranted invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops.

Vladimir Putin is a ruthless dictator who is now a war criminal – there can be no doubt of the lengths he will go to get what he wants.

It was a poignant moment in the Chamber of the House of Commons last week when the whole house, political representatives of all parties, rose to give the Ukrainian ambassador, Nadya Prystaiko, a lengthy standing ovation. It was emotional to be able to show solidaritity with his nation in some small way.

As a gesture, it grabbed the media’s attention and sent a signal to the watching world. It was, however, but a gesture. No matter how heartfelt and profound, it cannot replace the urgent action required by the UK Government to support Ukrainian families.

Ukraine alone cannot halt the Putin led Russian forces from killing more innocent people – they need meaningful support, and they need it now.

I cannot remember ever receiving more emails from constituents on a single subject – thousands of you have been in touch to urge me to lobby the UK Government to do more and ask me what you can do to help. Many of you have been frustrated to watch the lack of haste and meaningful action on sanctions and sanctuary from Boris Johnson and his Government.

While there has been some good work on sanctions, there is an awful lot of wriggle room left for Russian Oligarchs with links to Putin and seemingly little ideas about what to do with any frozen or seized funds.

Loopholes, lasting weeks or months, are being left to allow bad actors to move their dirty money out of the UK, making a mockery of the sanctions process. Why are the Tories allowing this? You’ll have to make your own mind up on that.

On sanctuary, we have seen the whole of Europe throw open their doors to fleeing refugees, suspending visa requirements for three years, in an inspirational show of common decency and solidarity. Disgracefully, the UK government have thus far refused to mirror this action. Instead, we have to listen to Ministers suggest Ukrainians can apply for ‘fruit picking’ visas and their backbench MPs wailing that their constituencies are ‘too full’ – telling us they have already ‘done their bit’.

On behalf of the people of Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey, I urged the Foreign Secretary to allow us to follow the actions of our European neighbours – she dismissed my appeal.

In contrast, the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has pledged that Scotland is ready to welcome Ukrainian refugees and urges the UK government to waive visa requirements for people seeking refuge.

Here at home, our communities have shown their support for Ukraine in every way possible. From businesses and groups collecting donations to the various vigils and protests, people across the constituency are doing what they can to show solidarity with Ukraine’s people. They are joined by our wonderful public organisations ready to support refugees seeking safety.

I know many readers are already doing much to help and are keen to do more. An initiative worthy of praise is DEC’s humanitarian appeal. For those who are able to and wish to contribute £10, text SUPPORT to 70150.