Thursday 24 February 2022 / 5:30 PM Keir Starmer / Ukraine

Keir Starmer’s statement to Parliament on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

In this dark hour our thoughts, our solidarity, and our resolve are with the Ukrainian people.

Invading troops march through their streets.

Missiles shell their cities.

They have been cast into a war.

Not through fault of their own, but because Putin fears their freedom.

And because he knows that no people will choose to live under his bandit rule unless forced to do so at the barrel of a gun.

The consequences of Putin’s war of aggression will be horrendous and tragic for the people of Ukraine.

But also for the Russian people who have been plunged into chaos by a violent elite who have stolen their wealth, stolen their chance of democracy, and stolen their future.

And we must prepare ourselves for difficulties here.

We will face economic pain, as we free Europe from dependence on Russian gas and oil.

And clean our institutions from money stolen from the Russian people.

But the British public have always been willing to make sacrifice to defend democracy on our continent, and we will again.

The consequences of Putin’s actions will be felt throughout the world.

For years and I fear decades to come.

Russia’s democratic neighbours, and every other democracy that lives in the shadow of autocratic power, are watching their worst nightmare unfold.

So all those who believe in democracy, over dictatorship,

In the rule of law, over the reign of terror,

In freedom, over the jackboot of tyranny must unite and take a stand.

We must support the Ukrainian people in their fight and we must ensure that Putin fails.

Putin will eventually learn the same lesson that Europe’s tyrants learnt in the last century.

That the resolve of the world is harder than he imagines.

That people’s desire for freedom burns brighter than he can ever extinguish.

That the light of liberty will prevail over his darkness.

For that to happen we must make a clean break with the failed approach to handling Putin.

Which after Georgia, after Crimea, and after Donbas, has fed his belief that the benefits of aggression outweigh the costs.

We must finally show him, he is wrong.

That means doing all we can to help Ukraine defend herself.

By providing weapons, equipment, and financial assistance, as well as humanitarian support for the Ukrainian people.

We must urgently reinforce and reassure our NATO allies in Eastern Europe who now stand at the frontier of Putin’s aggression.

And the hardest possible sanctions must be taken against the Putin regime.

It must be isolated.

Its finances frozen.

Its ability to function crippled.

That means excluding Russia from financial mechanisms like SWIFT and banning trade in Russian sovereign debt.

I therefore welcome the set of sanctions outlined by the Prime Minister just now.

And pledge Opposition support for further measures.

And there are changes we must make here in the UK.

For too long our country has been a safe-haven for the money that Putin and his fellow bandits stole from the Russian people.

It must change now.

Cracking open the shell-companies in which the stolen money is hidden will require legislation.

Bring it forward immediately Prime Minister, and Labour will support it along with the other measure the Prime Minister just outlined.

Mr Speaker, this must be a turning point in history.

We must look back and say that this terrible day was actually when Putin doomed himself and doomed his plan to reassert Russian force as a means of controlling Eastern Europe to defeat.

We know how Putin operates.

So we know how to defeat him.

He seeks division, so we must stand united.

He hopes for inaction, so we must take a stand.

He believes that we are too corrupted to do the right thing,

So we must prove him wrong.

I believe we can.

And in this dark hour.

We can step towards the light.