Harborough MP Neil O’Brien called for ultra-tough sanctions to be imposed on Vladimir Putin’s Russia when he spoke to the Harborough Mail earlier this week. Here he gives us his thoughts, insight and analysis hours after massive Russian military forces have now launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in a terrifying act of war which has sent shockwaves across the entire world.
It could be us. The queues of cars trying to leave Kiev. The father crying as he puts his primary school age daughter on a bus to safety. The people checking their smartphones as the shelter under ground on the tube. All these images of the Russian invasion of Ukraine remind us that these are people just like us, just at the other end of Europe.
Millions of people living in terror, fleeing their home – because of the actions of one man: Vladimir Putin. Make no mistake or be under no illusion, there is one person to blame for this, the President of Russia. Not NATO, not ‘the West'
The Ukrainians are having their homes pounded by mortar shells, blocks of flats struck by Russian missiles and their towns shot up by Russian helicopter gunships, just because they dare to dream of a future not just as a servile state under the boot of Russia.
We need to take strong and united action in the face of this Russian aggression, something that many have sadly been warning about for a number of years and months. We have now frozen the assets of all major Russian banks, personally sanctioned more than 100 individuals, entities and their subsidiaries and banned Russian planes including Aeroflot from UK airspace.
I support the steps taken so far by the Prime Minister, and the confirmation that further sanctions and measures will be introduced, in a co-ordinated and joint up way with our partners and allies.
Already things are going wrong for Putin. The Ukrainian defence was stronger than expected. Massive sanctions are beginning. There are protests across Russia (despite thousands of arrests by Putin's police state). In other nearby countries like Finland MPs are now understandably pushing to join NATO.
I’ve been in touch with constituents who have family stuck in Ukraine and understandably worried and concerned for their safety in the face of this invasion. There will be thousands of others across the UK with family ties in Ukraine in similar positions, and millions of others across the world looking on with grave concern and the flagrant disregard shown by Vladimir Putin.
He cannot succeed, and we must do all we can to show Putin and Russia that we will not stand by, as he tries to invade a neighbouring country. This period will be looked back on in decades to come, and it is important we stand united with Ukraine and our allies, and be counted. The Ukrainian people are our friends, our neighbours and our partners, we must stand with them and face down this unprovoked Russian aggression.