Just recently, I stood in the destroyed town of Irpin in Ukraine surrounded by homes similar to the ones we live in and the same cars that we drive. All that was left behind by the people fleeing for their lives, were discarded shoes, clothes and a few wrecked vehicles. I saw the complete annihilation of a community. On the outskirts of Irpin, I saw what the local Ukrainians referred to as “The Cemetery of Burnt Cars”, where families had loaded up what they could to escape the advancing Russian forces, but they didn’t make it out because the Russians fired upon them and killed all the people trying to escape. All this, taking place, on the continent of Europe, in an independent state with a Parliamentary democracy. The people of Ukraine are fighting for their lives and their freedom.
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, I have asked several Parliamentary questions, spoke in debates and hosted Ukrainian Members of Parliament at Westminster. Within a few weeks of the invasion I asked the Deputy Prime Minister about the UK supplying Starstreak anti-air missiles to destroy Russian fighter jets in the air. Just a couple of weeks ago, I asked the Prime Minister at PMQs to thank and pay tribute to the people who are working at MOD Abbey Wood who are providing the logistical support and procuring weapons to send to Ukraine so they can kick the Russians out and defend their country.
I felt incredibly privileged to be in Kyiv for the one-year anniversary of the invasion, where I was able to place a candle at the Wall of Heroes.
Since the conflict started, the government has committed over £3.8 billion in humanitarian, economic and military assistance to Ukraine. The new revised Integrated Review has pledged to increase defence spending by a further £5bn over the next 2 years, on top of the £560 million of new investment last year and on top of the record £20 billion uplift announced in 2020.
I founded and Chair an All-Party Parliamentary Group on Sovereign Defence Manufacturing Capability where I recently began an inquiry on the impact of the Ukrainian war on the resilience of our defence industrial capability, our capacity to keep producing weapons for Ukraine - and replenishing our supplies.
I will continue to work with Defence Ministers, defence manufacturers and the team at DE&S Abbey Wood to ensure that the Ukrainians get the equipment they need as quickly as possible as they defend our universal values of democracy, freedom and an international rules-based order.