I would never have imagined that in the 21st Century I would be explaining to my children that a fellow democratic European nation was being invaded by one of its neighbours.
We have all seen the dreadful scenes emerging from the conflict in Ukraine and the devastating consequences of Putin’s actions for ordinary people, no different from any of us, who just want to live their lives free from violence and tyranny.
It has been heartwarming to see the community coming together to unite in support and prayers for the people of Ukraine, such as at the recent interfaith Vigil for Peace in Bushey. As innocent Ukrainians flee the untold suffering taking place in their homeland, we must and will be open and generous in welcoming them to our country.
This collective spirit is echoed globally by the way the Western alliance has come together to stand up against the murderous aggression of Russia and hold Putin to account for his terrible crimes.
I am proud that the UK has led the way in sanctioning Russia and supporting Ukraine in its fightback. We will employ every method we can to hit Putin where it hurts.
As we implement tougher sanctions, there will be short-term pain, with higher energy prices and an increased cost of living. It is clear, however, that the UK cannot be reliant on the fossil fuels of Putin’s Russia, so we must take action to achieve energy independence as we phase out Russian oil and gas use.
This means continuing our transition to cheaper and cleaner renewable energy in the long-term, while investing in nuclear and more domestic oil and gas production in the short-term. This government will be exploring every option to protect and improve our energy security and sever these ties with Russia. We will also make sure we provide support to families struggling with the cost of living caused by this crisis.
Putin must know that his actions have only strengthened the West’s resolve and belief in our shared values of freedom and democracy. I know the UK will continue to do everything we can to ensure that tyranny can never succeed, and that freedom will prevail.