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They will never be alone

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In his weekly Hayes in the House column, Sir John Hayes discusses the war in Ukraine.

As the war in Ukraine continues into its second month, for those bombarded by Russian bombs and hounded by Putin’s soldiers, it must feel like a lifetime.

The Ukrainian people’s continued resistance in the face of brutality is a testament to their fiercely proud, resilient patriotism. Too much evidence of heinous war crimes in Bucha and

beyond has emerged for this to be understood as anything other than a struggle between good and evil.

As the United Kingdom has a proud history of standing up for nation states against tyrannical expansionism, we share a unique bond with the Polish people in a common love of country. When our nation took a stand against Nazi Germany, theirs stood with us; a reminder of which are the many Polish war graves here, including those locally in Sutton Bridge.

Now Europe faces its worst crisis since the Second World War, with Russian soldiers on the march in

Poland’s neighbour Ukraine, and the civilised world funding the fight against their advance.

The great conservative thinker, Edmund Burke, said that “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”. Our Prime Minister might have chosen to do nothing, but opted instead to make a stand against evil. Sometimes dragging hesitant partners along to support Ukraine, he has led Europe in its repudiation of Russian expansionism. He made the decision to train 22,000 Ukrainian soldiers before war broke out; he insisted on the most severe sanctions which rallied the Western world to starve the Russian war machine; and, most importantly, he pledged from the start the essential arms needed to resist the Russian invaders. I regard it as a badge of honour that the Russians have officially sanctioned me, alongside named Britons.

Support has grown over the last two months as ordinary Britons are welcoming refugees, like the ones I recently met in Moulton Chapel, into their homes and providing aid. Such support is going from our area to Ukraine. Local charity champion Mandy Baxter tells me that ‘Boxes of Hope’ have sent 90tons of aid. An initial idea to dispatch shoe boxes from the village hall in Holbeach, St. Marks has escalated beyond anybody’s expectations, and now, in a natural progression, South Holland is welcoming recently arrived Ukrainians.

Simultaneously, our Prime Minister has promised a further £1.3billion in aid and military support as Ukraine continues to confound the invader in an implosion of Russian military might.

The siege of Mariupol has become symbolic of Ukrainian’s heroic resistance in the face of wanton destruction. Before Putin’s invasion in February, it was a prosperous city of 430,000 civilians, now only 100,000 residents remain in the shadow of a metropolis eviscerated by artillery and bombing – with a few thousand soldiers stubbornly holding out in the subterranean tunnels of a Soviet-era steel plant. Their fight confounded Putin, who in his bluster thought he could simply sweep into Ukraine and cast aside any challenge.

We should be proud of the spirit of Ukrainians defending their homeland and proud too of the difference our country is making. Britain’s friends in Eastern Europe, with their first-hand knowledge of Soviet oppression, are standing firm, for they know the true value of national self-determination.

In 1940, Winston Churchill declared that the United Kingdom would resist the Nazi menace “if necessary for years, if necessary, alone”. In 2022 it is Ukraine and her people who stand at the forefront of the struggle against tyranny. It may be a fight that lasts for years, but they are far from alone.

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