Speaking at tonight’s vigil on the anniversary of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, I said;

“Events like this taking place in towns and cities across Britain, Europe and beyond because we know the struggle of the Ukrainian people is our struggle.

It was a privilege recently for us to listen to President Zelensky when he visited us in Parliament. He made the point that this war must be won not just for Ukraine, but for the message it sends to all aggressors. Those who would change boundaries by force, inflict destruction and death on other peoples, replacing democracy with dictatorship.

So it is our struggle too, but Ukrainians in the front-line. We have played a part – providing support, welcoming those fleeing conflict into our communities.

But Ukrainians are paying the price of the war.

One year ago tonight the world looked on in horror as Putin’s forces marched on Kyiv. Since then we have looked on in admiration as Russia’s forces have been defeated again and again. Forced back from Kyiv, Kharkiv and in the east.

But at great cost. As he’s been forced back Putin has waged this war with ever greater brutality. With terror against innocent people and medieval siege tactics against civilians – taking out power supplies and trying to freeze and starve people.

But we should also remember that the war didn’t start a year ago. It started 9 years ago. Sheffield had a long-established twinning with Donetsk. It’s a city like us – built on coal and steel. It’s a city I’ve visited …. a city where I had friends. But it’s a city destroyed by conflict since 2014.

Tonight we remember those who have lost their lives – over last year and the last 8 years. We salute the courage of those who have resisted and we commit our continuing support. Slava Ukraini

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