Ukrainian MP urges West to protect citizens who remain as well as refugees

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A Ukrainian MP has said her “very big concern” is that the West will turn Ukraine’s plight into a “humanitarian question” instead of helping the country defend itself.

With up to four million people expected to flee the war zone, demands have been made for the UK to take in more Ukrainians.

However, Inna Sovsun, deputy leader of the Holos Party, said that with “enough support from the West to win in this war, the refugees problem will be automatically solved.”

A screen grab dated 04/03/22 taken during a zoom call with Ukrainian MP Inna Sovsun, who has said the country feels “abandoned by the West” as she condemned the response of the UK and US to the Russian invasion. Issue date: Saturday March 5, 2022
Inna Sovsun is the deputy leader of the Holos Party (PA)

“So I believe that the world should really concentrate on helping make Ukraine secure.

“I’m very much afraid that when we turn all the attention to the refugee issues, we normalise the situation as it is here in Ukraine.

“Then we forget about the 35 million who are still in the country, and the constant bombardment by the Russians.

“So I would expect other countries to do more for the refugees. But I don’t want that to be an excuse for not doing something here in terms of helping us, like closing the skies and everything.”

Boris Johnson has again ruled out imposing a no-fly zone over Ukraine, despite Russia’s strike on a maternity hospital in the besieged city of Mariupol.

The attack on Wednesday was said to have killed three people, including a child, and injured 17 others. It led to renewed calls from President Volodymyr Zelensky for Western warplanes to intervene.

However, Mr Johnson said that while Vladimir Putin had abandoned “all norms of civilised behaviour”, a no-fly zone would bring the UK and Nato into direct conflict with Russia – something he was determined to avoid.

Meanwhile, Home Secretary Priti Patel was urged to do more to make it easier for Ukrainians to find sanctuary in the UK after announcing a limited series of changes to the visa regime.

From Tuesday many Ukrainians will be able to apply online for permission to come under the scheme allowing family members to be reunited with relatives already settled in the UK.

But the British Red Cross said the quickest way of fixing the problem would be to remove the requirement for a visa, while the Refugee Council said Ms Patel’s announcement “does not go anywhere near far enough”.

“That’s my very big concern,” she said. “Because I can see how turning this into a humanitarian question can be an easy way of saying that we’re doing something but actually not solving the real reason.

“Because if we get enough support from the west to win in this war, the refugees problem will be automatically solved.

“People will just go back to their lives, the absolute majority of them.”

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