Ukraine

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office – in the House of Commons at on 30 January 2024.

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Photo of Mark Eastwood Mark Eastwood Conservative, Dewsbury

What assessment he has made of the impact of the UK’s non-military support to Ukraine over winter 2023-24 on the humanitarian situation in that country.

Photo of Sheryll Murray Sheryll Murray Conservative, South East Cornwall

What recent diplomatic support he has provided to Ukraine.

Photo of Judith Cummins Judith Cummins Labour, Bradford South

What discussions he has had with his international counterparts on maintaining support for Ukraine.

Photo of Richard Foord Richard Foord Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Defence)

What recent discussions he has had with his international counterparts on the war in Ukraine.

Photo of Leo Docherty Leo Docherty Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

Since February 2020 the UK has committed £357 million of humanitarian assistance to Ukraine. In response to winter we scaled up humanitarian support with additional funding to provide cash assistance, insulation, and support for energy and heating. The Foreign Secretary’s first overseas visit was to Ukraine. He continues to set out the UK ambition to international partners and did so in November during NATO and OSCE gatherings, and most recently at Davos, where he met Foreign Minister Kuleba.

Photo of Mark Eastwood Mark Eastwood Conservative, Dewsbury

Tim Bamford, our local councillor for Denby Dale, has devoted his own time and expense to making several potentially dangerous excursions, driving a truck to deliver essential humanitarian aid to war-torn Ukraine alongside volunteers from the Yorkshire Aid Convoy. Will the Minister join me in thanking Tim—who is sitting in the Public Gallery—and all the fantastic team at the Yorkshire Aid Convoy for everything that they are doing to help the Ukrainian people, and wish them a safe journey for their next trip in March?

Photo of Leo Docherty Leo Docherty Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

I am delighted to join my hon. Friend in thanking Tim and Tina Bamford, both of whom are in the Public Gallery. The response of the British people to the tragedy in Ukraine has been remarkable and hugely generous, and we salute the courage and generosity of spirit shown by the commendable actions of the Yorkshire Aid Convoy.

Photo of Sheryll Murray Sheryll Murray Conservative, South East Cornwall

There are many billions of Russian assets frozen by western nations, and there is a strong moral case for Ukraine to use those assets to repel Russia’s aggression and rebuild its own economy. What progress has the Department made in talking to other nations to make that a reality?

Photo of Leo Docherty Leo Docherty Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

I agree that there is a strong moral case for using Russian assets to repair the damage that Russia has wrought on Ukraine. We are clear about the fact that Russia should pay, and we continue to assess what legal path there might be to achieving that end.

Photo of Judith Cummins Judith Cummins Labour, Bradford South

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees recently said:

“I think the big difference from last year to this year is that this year…There is somehow a trend towards getting used to Ukrainian suffering.”

It is more than 200 days since the Opposition tabled a motion necessitating Government legislation to bring about the full seizure and repurposing of Russian state assets within 90 days, but no plan has yet been forthcoming. Why are the Government so out of step with our allies and partners in this regard?

Photo of Leo Docherty Leo Docherty Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

We are not out of step; we are leading the pack, and have been doing so for the last two years. Our resolve is shown by our own financial commitment but also by our permanent commitment to the UK-Ukraine relationship, which was demonstrated when the Prime Minister signed the UK-Ukraine agreement on security co-operation at the start of the year. We are in it for the long haul.

Photo of Richard Foord Richard Foord Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Defence)

Tomorrow Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary-General of NATO, will meet representatives of the Heritage Foundation, a Republican-leaning think-tank. He will meet allies of former President Trump in an effort to unlock $60 billion of funding for Ukraine. What efforts are the Government making to persuade Trump’s allies, and what contingency planning are they doing with our European allies for a scenario in which Trump and his allies are not persuaded?

Photo of Leo Docherty Leo Docherty Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

Ministers engage constantly with counterparts around the world, including those in the US. When it comes to the NATO response, we have seen NATO expand and grow in the last two years. Putin thought it was weak, but it is now bigger and stronger than it was in 2022.

Photo of Alyn Smith Alyn Smith Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Europe), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (EU Accession)

The International Monetary Fund estimates that Ukraine needs $37 billion this year just to manage the books. There is a special European Council meeting on Thursday to sign off a package of €50 billion in aid to Ukraine. The UK Government have been part of that coalition, so can the Minister assure us that Ukraine fatigue will not set in here? There is backing across the House for the continuation of these supportive efforts, and surely the most effective way to get aid to Ukraine is to transfer the seized Russian assets to finance for Ukraine’s reconstruction.

Photo of Leo Docherty Leo Docherty Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

I assure the hon. Gentleman that we feel no fatigue when it comes to our Ukraine policy. We have exceeded last year’s commitment in terms of lethal aid, and we will be contributing a huge amount of other aid and economic support. Since 2022, our total humanitarian, economic and military support has risen to more than £12 billion, which I think demonstrates that our resolve is unflagging.

Photo of Julian Lewis Julian Lewis Chair, Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament

I share the concern of Richard Foord about the attitude towards the Ukraine fight, and indeed towards NATO, of certain elements on the American political scene. Will our Foreign Office team do everything in their power to impress on our American allies that the peace of Europe depends on unquestionable American support for the NATO alliance in the future, just as it did in the past?

Photo of Leo Docherty Leo Docherty Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

We continue to make that point to all our interlocutors. I should also say that we continue to make the point to all NATO member states that investing 2% of GDP in defence expenditure is a condition of membership.

Photo of Fabian Hamilton Fabian Hamilton Labour, Leeds North East

I met the Leeds Ukrainian community in my constituency this weekend to hear about the desperate needs of war-torn Ukrainian citizens. With the Hungarian leader Viktor Orbán continuing to veto the EU’s £50 billion aid package to Ukraine, what diplomatic steps is the Minister taking to encourage Hungary to play its part in supporting Ukraine’s fight for freedom?

Photo of Leo Docherty Leo Docherty Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

We are very active in our diplomacy with Hungary and neighbouring states. I was actually in Slovakia last week, talking about a similar set of issues. Diplomacy does matter and our judgment is that, in the end, Mr Orbán will do the right thing.