Ukraine delegation reassured of strong UK support for their county in opposing Russia’s illegal war
On 15-17 June 2022, BGIPU hosted a delegation of five parliamentarians from Ukraine. The visit allowed members of the Verkhovna Rada to update UK parliamentarians on the continued war being waged against Ukraine by Russia following its illegal invasion in early 2022. The delegation was led by Ms Lesia Vasylenko, who was accompanied by Ms Alona Shkrum, Mr Dmytro Natalukha, Mr Rostyslav Tistyk and Ms Halyna Vasylchenko.
The programme commenced with a working lunch hosted by APPG Ukraine Chair, Robert Jenrick MP who warmly welcomed the visiting delegation with members of both the Commons and Lords. They discussed what was happening in Ukraine at that moment, and how the UK could best help. Lesia Vasylenko and Halyna Vasylchenko then went to meet Robin Walker MP, Minister for schools, to discuss what opportunities there were for Ukrainian children in British schools.
Members of the delegation participated in panel event on war crimes, hosted by the Ukraine APPG and attended by members of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and then participated in a civil society seminar hosted by the not-for-profit project Airwars, with Shadow Minister for Peace and Disarmament, Fabian Hamilton MP, on the topic of urban warfare in Ukraine. The day finished with a useful impromptu conversation with Mr Speaker, and an official meeting with the Chair of the Defence Committee Rt Hon Tobias Ellwood MP, and Committee member Derek Twigg MP, on the importance of delivering the right global narrative to ensure other countries hear the truth on Ukraine’s vital grain supplies being blocked by Russian military action near the port of Odessa and in the Black Sea.
The following day the delegation met with the Chair of the International Trade Committee Angus MacNeil MP, and Committee member Sir Tony Lloyd MP, to discuss future trade relations between the UK and Ukraine with the delegation noting the significant number of countries deciding to invest in Ukraine now, including as part of efforts to rebuild and rehabilitate areas of the country. This meeting was then followed by meeting the Chair and members of the Home Affairs Committee, Rt Hon Dame Diana Johnson MP, Adam Holloway MP, Tim Loughton MP and Stuart McDonald MP, where the delegation raised the issues of immigration, noting that when they had recently travelled from Dublin to London, they could enter the UK without visas (due to the Common Travel Area) but noting it was far more difficult to travel directly to UK from Warsaw.
After a lunch hosted by BGIPU Chair, Harriett Baldwin MP, the delegates travelled to Chatham House, where they had good discussions regarding long terms plans for the country. The group were then back to Parliament to meet with FCDO Minister Lord Goldsmith to talk about the direct action that the UK Government was taking to support Ukraine in defeating Russia’s invasion.
On the final day of their visit, the delegation met with experts at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) to discuss psychological warfare (or psyops), including how Ukrainians could reflect on the tactics of others like the UK in addressing Russian propaganda and disinformation in its war on Ukraine.
The visit was successful in providing a timely opportunity for UK parliamentarians to show their continued support to counterparts in Ukraine, with all parliamentarians acknowledging and praising their incredible bravery in often extreme circumstances.