Monthly column: Spare a thought this Christmas for families torn apart by the war in Ukraine

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Mohammad Yasin MP in the House of Commons
Mohammad Yasin MP in the House of Commons

Bracing the recent freezing weather in my weekly door-knocking sessions in Bedford and Kempston, my thoughts have been with the millions of Ukranians who will spend Christmas in sub-zero temperatures, without heating, electricity or hot water because of Putin’s barbaric assault on their freedom.

I’ve been thinking of the millions of families torn apart, the mainly women and children who fled as refugees and the people still there, fighting for their country against all the odds.

I think of the tens of thousands who have been killed, wounded and brutalised.

Despite Ukrainian forces enduring almost daily strikes, information fatigue is creeping in as stories about the war drop down the news agenda.

At the end of November, Ukraine’s First Lady, Olena Zelenska, spoke in Parliament about the atrocities of the Russian invasion and why the West must not give up on her country.

She compared the bombing of Ukraine by the Russian aggressor to the bombing of Great Britain by the Nazis during World War II. “You didn’t give up,” she said. “We will not give up.”

“But”, she continued, “We need more than just victory. We need justice.”

She told MPs that everywhere in the liberated cities and communities, thousands of war crimes have been documented. Torture chambers arranged by the occupiers have been found and numerous instances of rape being used as a weapon of war.

I support her calls on the British government to lead a global effort to establish a Special Tribunal for the crime of Russian aggression against Ukraine.

Russia is fighting on the economic battlefield, not just the military battlefield and this is an essential part of Putin’s plan. His weaponisation of energy has affected us all.

Labour has been clear that the Government must freeze energy prices to ensure no one pays a penny more on their energy bill this winter and funds this through a windfall tax on oil and gas companies.

The energy crisis shows we need to invest in cheaper, cleaner, secure British energy to ensure we tackle climate change and never find ourselves in a crisis like this again, reliant upon imported energy. We must also get on with the vital mission of insulating millions of homes to ensure people’s bills go down in the long term.

Parliament has been united in their support for Ukraine. We must continue to support them, not just with military equipment but also to improve its resilience in the face of these attacks. The government should also do all it can with allies to up the pressure on Iran and any other countries providing arms.

Russia’s attack will have long-term implications for the European security order. We must work with our NATO allies and partners across Europe and the world to bolster Britain’s defence and security at home and abroad.

The Government must reboot defence plans, rewrite the Integrated Review, reform defence procurement and rethink their £2.3 billion real terms spending cuts to our Army and 10,000 troops.

We must not forget Ukraine’s tragedy.

I want to express my gratitude to the people across Bedfordshire who have done extraordinary acts of kindness to help Ukrainians in desperate need, including taking them into their homes. People in Bedford Borough alone have provided homes to over 300 Ukrainians.

I wish them, and all the people of Bedford and Kempston a peaceful and hopeful Christmas.

This is a monthly guest column provided by
Mohammad Yasin, Labour MP for Bedford and Kempston.
It is published unedited and does not reflect the views of the Bedford Independent.