Opinion: ‘Peterborough people play vital part in support for Ukraine’

Peterborough’s MP Paul Bristow writes his regular column for the Peterborough Telegraph...

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 12th March 2022, 2:33 pm
Protesters gather in Peterborough's Cathedral Square in support of Ukraine.

The footage emerging from Ukraine is horrifying.

The deliberate shelling of families fleeing their homes is a war crime.

Russian forces are killing Ukrainians indiscriminately in a futile attempt to break their will.

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All that Russia has provoked though is stronger resistance. The cities that have fallen may be occupied, but aren’t really under Russian control, because those who are left do not recognise their rule. They have fallen, but not surrendered.

The protests and waving of Ukrainian flags is a rebuke. Putin can order those protesting to be slaughtered, but he will never achieve his aim of annexation. Their will is greater than his.

While Russian conscripts shiver – often cold, hungry and without fuel – the brave Ukrainian resistance continues.

President Zelenskyy continues to inspire his country’s defence from his desk in Kyiv, the capital city, which remains unbowed two weeks after the invasion began. And in an historic address this week, he inspired the House of Commons.

It was a privilege to hear him.

He stressed that, while faced with unprovoked aggression: “We do not want to lose what is ours – our country – just as you once did not want to lose yours to the Nazis and you had to fight for Britain.”

Deliberately invoking Churchill, he added: “We will fight until the end, at sea and in the air. We will continue fighting for our land, whatever the cost. We will fight in the forests, in the fields, on the shores and in the streets.

“We are looking for help from civilised countries and we are thankful for this help. I am very grateful to you, Boris.”

The Prime Minister responded by saying: “Today, one of the proudest boasts in the free world is Ya Ukrainets... I am a Ukrainian.”

And he promised to deliver the weapons, sanctions and international pressure that Ukraine so desperately needs.

Some aspects won’t be easy for households in Peterborough. Stopping the flow of cash to Russia means higher bills and higher prices.

Cutting out Russian oil and transitioning from Russian gas will affect all of us.

Equally, I know whose side Peterborough will take.

Wherever I have gone, I have experienced the unity of support for Ukraine, whose people we must not – and will not – fail.

It’s not just the many Ukrainians and Eastern Europeans in our city; the whole of Peterborough is mobilising and showing that it cares.

I met students from The Peterborough School on Thorpe Road, who ran their own collection.

In Shailesh Vara’s constituency, St Olga’s Church has acted as a hub for donations and volunteer activity.

I was incredibly impressed when I visited them. Shailesh and I have helped them to set up a new hub at the Showground.

The Disasters Emergency Committee has brought together UK aid charities, including the British Red Cross, Cafod, Care International and Save the Children UK.

Food, water, medicine, protection and trauma care for people fleeing the war are all incredibly important.

DEC’s Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal has already raised well over £100 million, including £25 million in match-funding from the UK Government. Anyone can donate at dec.org.uk

There remains more for our Government to do in assisting refugees, particularly those with links here.

But we should be proud of our country’s response and recognise President Zelenskyy’s gratitude.

In this dark hour for the free world, we are all Ukrainians.

My Ukrayintsi!