Carmichael on Ukraine refugees and Russian oil tankers in Orkney

A steady stream of media releases is emerging from the Lib Dems as the Ukraine crisis deepens. As Newshound reports two of the most recent statements, Reuters reports that Vladimir Putin has ordered his military command “to put nuclear deterrence forces on high alert after aggressive statements by NATO countries”. While we nervously wait for confirmation of that, Alistair Carmichael has written to Boris Johnson urging him to deny Russian-owned vessels access to UK ports and attacked Kevin Foster’s comments on Ukrainian refugees saying: “We should stand with all Ukrainians, not only those prepared to pick kale and cabbage.”

Russian oil tanker in Orkney: Boris Johnson must intervene (13:30 Sunday)

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson and MP for Orkney and Shetland Alistair Carmichael has written to Boris Johnson urging him to sanction and deny Russian-owned vessels access to UK ports following Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine.

In his letter, Mr Carmichael highlighted his previous exchange with Mr Johnson in Parliament in which the Prime Minister indicated that new measures meant the government could sanction Russian-owned companies like Sovcomflot, one of the largest petroleum shipping companies in the world.

One Sovcomflot vessel (NS Challenger) has already departed from Sullom Voe terminal in Shetland with a second, the NS Champion, due to arrive at Flotta terminal in Orkney on Tuesday. Currently such vessels operate freely and cannot legally be denied access to ports by local authorities.

Mr Carmichael also highlighted that during the Second World War the Royal Navy flagship, the Royal Oak, was sunk in the Scapa Flow by a German U-boat with 835 crew members losing their lives. He warned that allowing open access to Sovcomflot would “dishonour the memory of the sacrifice that the crew of the Royal Oak made in their fight against fascism” and called for action immediately.

Commenting Alistair Carmichael MP said:

With the conflict in Ukraine still raging, it’s vital that all countries step up their sanctions against Putin and his cronies.

Companies like Sovcomflot are owned by the Russian Government, so the money they make goes straight back to the Kremlin and helps fund Vladimir Putin’s war machine.

It’s unthinkable that our sanctions do not extend to companies operating in our ports, allowing money to still make its way back to Moscow. Boris Johnson says he has the power to stop this, so now he has to use it.

We must stand with the Ukrainian people, who are bravely resisting the invasion of their homeland, and ensure no Russian ships cannot use UK ports to fund Putin’s war.

Kevin Foster Ukrainian visa comments “completely wrong” (11am Sunday)

Responding to Home Office Minister Kevin Foster tweeting that Ukrainians seeking to flee the ongoing conflict should apply for the seasonal worker visa, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said:

Ukrainians are queuing for miles to escape Putin’s war machine. For the Home Office to tell them to apply for visas as if they are looking for work or going on a gap year is completely wrong.

We should stand with all Ukrainians, not only those prepared to pick kale and cabbage.

The UK must help lead a coordinated humanitarian response, including a simple, fast scheme to resettle Ukrainian refugees in the UK.

Our country has a proud history of providing sanctuary to those fleeing war and persecution. We must not turn our backs on Ukrainians in their hour of need.

Ukranian Refugees: Govt plans are “woefully inadequate”(21:15 Sunday)

Responding to Boris Johnson’s announcement that Ukrainian refugees can come to the UK without a visa if they already have family here, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said:

This move falls way short of what is needed and will not help the vast majority of those currently fleeing war in Ukraine.

It is a woefully inadequate response to the terrible human tragedy we are seeing unfold.

Boris Johnson needs to follow the lead of our European neighbours and set up a simple, rapid scheme to resettle Ukrainian refugees in the UK.

Anything less would be a failure of moral leadership and leave thousands at risk.

* Andy Boddington is a Lib Dem councillor in Shropshire. He blogs at

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Ref Ukrainian refugees; what is the current situation?

    Patel says, ‘No!’
    Truss says, ‘Soon’
    Kevin Foster says, “Come, but promise to pick cabbages”
    Johnson says, “We are a welcoming people”( but doesn’t give details of how to come)

    Oh, for a joined up government!

  • Peter Hirst 2nd Mar '22 - 12:06pm

    Now is the time to prevent Russians from using London to money launder their wealth. We must allow all Ukrainian refugees who want it safe sanctuary here. Presumably we are doing what we can to influene Russian public opinion about their illegal war in Ukraine.

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