On 24 February 2022 the Russian army invaded neighbouring country Ukraine. Ukraine is an independent country in Eastern Europe; it was formerly part of the Soviet Union (1922-1991) but since 1991 it has been a Sovereign nation. Historically it has been ruled by several other countries and powers in the area, through their capacity to grow wheat it was for long considered as the bread basket of Eastern Europe. In more modern times it was discovered that the Ukraine is rich in natural resources such as coal, uranium, and titanium.
The world reacted to the recent invasion of Ukraine by Russia with shock, condemnation, and gestures of unity and support. Gestures like these require only little effort and may suggest on the surface that our government is serious about taking decisive steps to help end the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Other countries are flocking to aid Ukrainian refugees
It is to be expected that people will flee from a country that is being invaded. Those people become refugees, people with nowhere to call home, they risk death if they return to the country they came from. They leave their home with hardly anything, in many cases not even identity papers.
Countries such as Poland, Moldova, Ireland have said they will take in refugees without ties to their country, without the need for Visas. Poland has opened their borders and will even take pets that come with fleeing Ukrainians. Hungary and Slovakia have said they will take refugees without visas and offer them healthcare and the right to work. Czechia has lifted all entry requirements, Moldavo said the same. Ireland is accepting Ukrainians without visa, and they will have 90 days to legalise their presence in the country.
What is the UK doing to help Ukrainian refugees?
The UK Home Office has not changed visa rules for Ukrainian nationals to enter the UK. Only Ukrainians with British family members living here can apply for a family visa (UK nationals only, not those with Settled or pre-Settled status), and applications will need to be made in Ukraine, or in one of a few other countries as special concession (Poland, Moldova, Romania, Hungary), starting next week some time.
It seems that only under some pressure from the public among them some strong voices from well known figures in British politics as the shadow Home secretary Yvette Cooper and Molly Scott Cato former MEP from the Green Party could finally get Home Office to relax the rules for Ukrainian family members.
When it finally happened, Tim Farron, LibDem MP for Westmoreland and Lonsdale tweeted:
The only concession that was initially made was that Ukrainians already in the UK whose Visa is about to expire can get an extension and don’t need to return to Ukraine at this moment. There is no safe route and no consideration for the special circumstances of these people who are trying to keep their family safe from the assault of a full-blown war attack.
But there was the very helpful suggestion from the under-secretary for safe immigration that Ukrainian’s who want to escape the war can always apply for a “seasonal workers” (such as fruit pickers) visa. The tweet was later deleted, but here is a screenshot:
A petition to ask the government to allow refugees into the country without the need for a visa has been started by UK citizen Ms Eccles, and many UK charities have asked the government to reconsider.
Refugees need our help
Refugees and refugee camps will need financial help. The Canadian Premier Justin Trudeau has pledged that his government will match each dollar that is donated to Red Cross Canada’s Ukraine Appeal, thus doubling the donations made by Canadian citizens.
And from the UK government? Silence.
But we imposed sanctions! Yes, we did. We froze the assets of a few Russian banks, stopped Russian airline Aeroflot from entering UK airspace, restricted trade a bit, froze the assets of a few Russian individuals and stopped them from travelling. And do we think Putin will be impressed? The sanctions are expected to “knock percentage points off the Russian economy” in the next 12-18 months.
In comparison, Brexit was expected to take 15% off the UK economy in the 10-15 years following, and the government still thought there was no reason not to push on with it. So, will an expected few percentage points be enough to stop Putin? Doubtful.
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