Ukraine: Live thread on the political reaction

You know things are bad when you wake in the early hours and hear the announcement on the BBC World Service that it is to broadcast rolling news from 4am. There is almost no space for other news items other than the situation in Ukraine.

As in the early days of any war, reports are partial, sometimes confused, sometimes contradictory and sometimes downright lies. This is war in Europe and the full impact of the conflict cannot yet be predicted.

We will be adding reactions from Lib Dems to the conflict throughout the day.

Yesterday, Christine Jardine told the Commons:

The Liberal Democrats welcome tough sanctions on Russia, and we wish to preserve the unity that will be so important in controlling this evil—not just unity in this House, but unity with our NATO allies. However, I fear we need something stronger and more far-reaching if Putin is to take our resolve seriously—something much stronger than we have at the moment. The current list of those who will face sanctions is weak, with only three individuals on it, and it allows many of Putin’s cronies simply to get away scot-free. It is time that we used the full force of the sanction powers at our disposal, and Putin’s Russia must be treated like the rogue state it is.

Ed Davey said this morning:

This is the darkest day for our continent since the Second World War.

A terrible human tragedy is now unfolding before our very eyes. We must stand with the people of Ukraine.

Putin’s maniacal ambitions will stop at nothing. The blood of every innocent Ukrainian who perishes in this entirely unprovoked and illegal invasion is on his hands.

Let us also not forget the human cost for the Russian people who are now embroiled in a war they did not ask for by a leader they cannot get rid of.

It is time to let rip on the most severe of punitive sanctions. That must include an immediate end to the era of Russian interference in our country. Liberal Democrats stand ready to support a special extended session of Parliament to immediately pass the necessary legislation.

Layla also said:

Boris Johnson should use the almost £2 million of Russian-linked donations received by the Conservative Party to support the people of Ukraine.

This would send a powerful signal to Putin that the Conservatives are serious about no longer allowing themselves to be bankrolled by Russian money. It would also provide vital support to Ukrainians on the ground facing the threat of invasion and a sustained campaign of Russian disinformation.

Europe is taking steps to wean itself off Russian gas, but so far Boris Johnson is failing to wean the Tory party off Russian money. It’s time for the Conservatives to put their money where their mouth is.


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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Brad Barrows 24th Feb '22 - 7:37am

    This is really terrible but, sadly, was predictable. Without seeking to excuse Russia’s action in any way, it was clear that there was no diplomatic route open because the absolute ‘red lines’ of Russia and NATO left no room for compromise. Putin has now decided to change facts on the ground militarily and, if he succeeds, will then seek a diplomatic path from a much stronger negotiating position. Of course, his gamble may fail militarily or he may face massive political backlash at home.

  • Graham Jeffs 24th Feb '22 - 8:48am

    I fear we should not look at Ukraine as an isolated incident. Putin is able to do this because:

    a) He has the tacit support of China
    b) He foresees a Trumpist president entering the White House in due course who will have little taste for supporting NATO even to the extent that Biden has
    c) European states have spent the past ten years in particular in a state of denial, kidding themselves that either sanctions or negotiations or both shall somehow ‘bring sense’ to Putin’s ambitions.
    d) Coupled with c) has been a pathetic failure to ensure that there are sufficient military resources – and the will to use them – to deter.
    e) Overall, we have applied our values and logic to a regime that would not recognise them anyway.

    If Putin gets away with Ukraine, who next? And what are we prepared to do about it? Relying on the USA won’t be the answer.

  • David Garlick 24th Feb '22 - 9:36am

    If there is a how to do sanctions book then the Govt clearly has not read it yet. The book needs to be thrown at both Russia and Belarus. Is VP Mad or Bad?

  • It all smacks of the 1930’s, we had plenty of notice and told the Russsians that we would not intervene. What did we expect would happen.
    Putin must be laughing at the West for it’s weakness through the Trump years and especially the last few months.
    The Western democracies have been terribly weak. The best course of action is for NATO to commit heavily to its eastern borders and to stop any further invasions into the old communist states of Rumania, Bulgaria, Hungary, the Baltic, Poland etc otherwise we all might as well go home.
    Just an aside, even this morning the media keep speaking of a divided West, just simply helps Russia in their campaign. We are our own worst enemies.

  • John Bicknell 24th Feb '22 - 10:43am

    Putin is steeped in the history of the KGB and the Soviet Empire. He has not forgiven the loss of power and influence resulting from the breakdown of that regime, and, driven by a mixture of national pride and personal egotism, has sought to reclaim it with a series of territorial land grabs, of which this is the most audacious. As was noted in another thread, Putin apologists tend to come from the extreme left (who have always been admirers of Russia’s hard men), or the far right (note how sympathetic Farage has been towards Putin on GB News).

  • Another fear almost as bad as Putin, is a future Trumpist USA. Trump has said this is happening because Biden is weak, but Trump’s answer is not one of working with others (through Nato for example) but building the USA militarily so that it can go it alone to do whatever it wants around the world. It is also bad that people like Trump have weakened the UN, which in the past provided a mechanism for meetings between conflicting regimes.

  • What a sad day, another megalomaniac puts our world into a really dangerous scenario. If we needed any more proof, it goes to show that if we take our eyes of the here and now we might live to regret it?? I hope and pray that this conflict does not escalate any further.

  • I don’t claim to know what precisely should be done at the moment but then, I have never sought to be a national leader. What I do believe is that, if China sees a weak uncoordinated response from the West over the Ukraine, Taiwan will fall quickly. It is time for Johnson to quit and let the grown-ups in his party (if there are any left) deal with it.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 24th Feb '22 - 2:15pm

    This is the worst act in Europe by one country to another, since, not 1945, rather, 1968. Then as in 1956, Russian invasion.

    The democracies need to unite more, not in superstates but as autonomous friends. We are friends, us, the UK, the US, and EU, Australia, Taiwan, it makes no difference where.

    The far left do not understand. There is no “west,” they loathe so. There is the difference between the democratic world and dictatorships.

    We need far more robust support, not troops, but certainly weapons, aid, and sanctions like our party leader asked for. We need to stop the cow towing to might, rather than the doing what is right.

    We must stand with Ukraine as almost one world united, not in a direct involvement in war but with support…

  • theakes 24th Feb ’22 – 10:04am….It all smacks of the 1930’s, we had plenty of notice and told the Russsians that we would not intervene. What did we expect would happen…………….

    Would you commit our forces to a shooting war in Ukraine? Putin didn’t need telling that we wouldn’t go to all-out war over Ukraine..
    I disagree strongly with Putin’s action but I can understand his motive..We need far stronger sanctions against Putin’s friends in this country; sadly Russian money has been flowing into London and Johnson is reluctant to hit those oligarchs in our own backyard..
    BTW..The speech by our defence secretary to high ranking officers is hardly inspiring; his, “T he Scottish Guard kicked the Russian’s butt in 1853. We can do it again at any time,” was laughable..

  • The UN Charter provides that a member against which the Security Council has taken preventive or enforcement action may be suspended from the exercise of the rights and privileges of membership by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.
    It has been argued that with the adoption of the “Uniting for Peace” resolution by the General Assembly, and given the interpretations of the Assembly’s powers that became customary international law as a result, that the Security Council “power of veto” problem could be surmounted. By adopting A/RES/377 A, on 3 November 1950, over two-thirds of UN Member states declared that, according to the UN Charter, the permanent members of the UNSC cannot and should not prevent the UNGA from taking any and all action necessary to restore international peace and security, in cases where the UNSC has failed to exercise its “primary responsibility” for maintaining peace. Such an interpretation sees the UNGA as being awarded “final responsibility”—rather than “secondary responsibility”—for matters of international peace and security, by the UN Charter. Various official and semi-official UN reports make explicit reference to the Uniting for Peace resolution as providing a mechanism for the UNGA to overrule any UNSC vetoes; thus rendering them little more than delays in UN action, should two-thirds of the Assembly subsequently agree that action is necessary.

  • Barry Lofty 24th Feb '22 - 3:47pm

    Can I add, well said Layla, you said exactly what I was thinking.

  • There is no reason for anyone to adopt the framing chosen by Russian propaganda machines to describe the events of the past day. This is not about NATO and has never been about NATO. This is not about Donbas and has never been about Donbas. This is about the attempt of a despotic, imperial ruler to eliminate the sovereign character of one of its neighbors. Any discussion of what to do has to start with that understanding. Any failure to understand that is simply a gift to Mr Putin.

  • John Barrett 24th Feb '22 - 4:03pm

    One thing we could press the UK Government to do is to grant Ukrainian citizens temporary visas to find refuge in the UK.

    I received an email this morning from a family in the Kiev who could hear explosions outside, to say that some of them have already evacuated to a more rural area, as they live near the airport which they think might be attacked, and the rest of the family are frightened, but they could not accept my offer of staying with me in Edinburgh, as they need a visa to enter the UK, unlike the rest of the EU, which would welcome them without a visa.

    If this is the case, Liberal Democrats in Parliament must urgently press for an immediate change, to allow the issue of emergency visas to those in fear of their lives and to allow them to accept offers of a temporary safe haven here in the UK.

  • John Barrett is absolutely correct.

    He makes a practical suggestion and it’s something that can actually be achieved if only Priti Patel can be persuaded to take off her blinkers.

  • Sadly David Raw, I think PPs blinkers are welded shut.

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