Keir Starmer has declared the Labour Party’s “unrelenting” support for Ukrainian sovereignty following a meeting with Ukrainian soldiers on the 31st anniversary of the country’s independence from the Soviet Union.
The Labour leader met with Ukrainian soldiers being trained by British Army officials today on a visit to Salisbury Plain. Speaking with Ukrainian and British personnel, Starmer reiterated the opposition party’s commitment to NATO and praised the work the organisation has done providing assistance to Ukraine.
Starmer said: “It was an honour to visit Salisbury Plain today and meet Ukrainian troops being trained by British Army personnel. The global reputation of British forces is one of grit, class, steely determination and courage on the battlefield. That’s what I’ve seen here today.
“I’ve had the opportunity to thank both Ukrainian and British troops for their service and bravery. I also reiterated the Labour Party’s unrelenting support for Ukrainian sovereignty, as the country fights back against Putin’s barbarity.
“The UK remains totally united in the face of Russian aggression. Our commitment to the Ukrainian people will never waver.
“It is clear Russia’s attack will have long-term implications for Ukraine and the rest of Europe. British defence and security services will continue to be a vital force for countering Russian aggression, and they will always have our full backing.”
Western and Ukrainian officials have warned that Russia could launch more missile attacks on major cities on the anniversary of Ukraine’s independence – which also marks six months since Russia’s invasion of the country on February 24th.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a speech today: “A new nation appeared in the world on February 24th at four in the morning. It was not born, but reborn. A nation that did not cry, scream or take fright. One that did not flee. Did not give up. And did not forget.”
“We are holding on for six months. It is difficult for us, but we clenched our fists fighting for our fate. Every new day is a new reason not to give up. Because, having gone through so much, we have no right not to reach the end. What is the end of the war for us? We used to say: peace. Now we say: victory,” he declared.
In a video message today, Boris Johnson said: “I’ve never doubted for a moment that Ukraine is going to win this struggle, because no force on earth can overcome the patriotism of 44 million Ukrainians.
“And however long it takes, the United Kingdom will stand with Ukraine and provide every possible military, economic and humanitarian support.”
“One day, Ukraine will come through this ordeal and achieve victory. And when that moment comes, as it will, we in the UK will be even prouder to be friends of Ukraine,” the Prime Minister added.
David Lammy warned on Tuesday that a “laser-like focus” is needed from the government “both in Britain and across the international community” to maintain public support for Ukraine.
The Shadow Foreign Secretary’s comments followed a warning from refugees minister Lord Harrington, who is in charge of the scheme through which the public can volunteer to house Ukrainian refugees. Harrington told the government that the ‘thank you’ payment of £350 to households taking in refugees should be doubled.
Harrington said he expects around a quarter of the 25,000 households hosting refugees to pull out of the scheme after six months, meaning new homes will have to be found, amid the worsening cost-of-living crisis.