From 8 to 11 October, the First Deputy Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Oleksandr Korniienko paid a working visit to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The programme of the visit included participation in meetings and events to raise awareness of the bilateral parliamentary relations between the United Kingdom and Ukraine.
Increasing military support for Ukraine and supporting Ukrainian business: participation in the Labour Party of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Congress
First of all, the First Vice Speaker took part in the Labour Party of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Congress as the main foreign speaker, where he met with shadow ministers and party leaders.
During a meeting with the Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey and the MAG (Mines Advisory Group) CEO Darren Cormack, Oleksandr Korniienko discussed the issue of increasing military support for Ukraine. “The aggressor continues to launch missiles at the cities of our country, civilians and port infrastructure,” the First Vice-Speaker stressed, while emphasising the vital needs of air defence systems and ammunition supplies. He also noted that the United Kingdom was among the leaders of important decisions and expressed gratitude for all the assistance provided.
In addition, the First Deputy Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine met with the Shadow Secretary of State for Business and Trade Jonathan Reynolds to discuss support for the Ukrainian economy and business, including insurance of Ukrainian maritime cargo and enterprise development.
Oleksandr Korniienko and the leader of the Scottish Labour Party, Anas Sarwar, discussed the topic of ongoing support for Ukrainians living in Scotland. “Of course, we are waiting for everyone at home, in Ukraine, but at the same time, we must ensure decent and high-quality conditions of stay outside our homeland,” the First Vice-Speaker stressed.
In addition, Oleksandr Korniienko met with the leader of the Labour Party, Keir Starmer. The First Deputy Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine expressed his gratitude for the daily position of support for Ukraine and the fight for common freedom.
“We appreciate and are grateful for the support of Ukraine’s integration into the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation,” he said, adding that Keir Starmer’s personal position on a special international tribunal for the crime of aggression against Ukraine is very important: “This is a powerful signal for both the UK and the world to restore justice.”
Speech by First Deputy Speaker Oleksandr Korniienko at the Labour Party Congress
“We need to do more and strengthen our ability to co-operate and build bridges. Because if we don’t start building bridges, we will have to dig trenches,” Oleksandr Korniienko emphasised in his speech at the Labour Party Congress.
He noted that almost 600 days and decades of unconditional support for Ukraine from the UK provide the world with a good example of building such bridges. “Every step is of great importance. Supporting Ukraine’s integration into NATO makes the whole of Europe a safer place to live,” the First Deputy Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine stressed.
In addition, he noted that there is significant potential to deepen cooperation, accelerate the end of the war and achieve a common vision embodied in the Peace Formula of the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyi.
“We rely on the Labour Party’s solidarity and support for inclusive reconstruction to rebuild the Ukrainian economy, demining and building a new progressive European Ukraine,” the First Deputy Speaker emphasised, stressing that there is an opportunity to support the necessary reconstruction by using the frozen assets of russian oligarchs and the central bank to rebuild Ukraine: “This is absolutely legal and fair – the perpetrator must be held accountable for the consequences of their actions.”
At the same time, he noted that sanctions against the russian federation should be strengthened, as russia can now use the gaps in sanctions and mitigate their impact to produce military equipment.
“We have to do more to protect Ukrainian women and children and draw attention to the forced deportation of Ukrainians to russia, including more than twenty thousand children,” said the First Deputy Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. He also noted that it is necessary to be united in taking measures against attempts to russify Crimea, spread propaganda and destroy the Ukrainian nation in this war waged by the russian rederation.
At the end of his speech, Oleksandr Korniienko expressed the gratitude of the entire Ukrainian people for the support provided by the United Kingdom.
Labour Friends of Ukraine: an event on the sidelines of the Labour Party Congress
According to the First Deputy Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, many words of support for Ukraine were voiced during the event on the sidelines of the Labour Party Congress – Labour Friends of Ukraine.
In particular, strong speeches were delivered by the Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey and Shadow Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Development Secretary David Lammy, as well as Mick Antoniw, the General Counsel and Minister for the Constitution in the Welsh Government.
“It is very important to feel solidarity with Ukrainians. It is very important to understand that the world is choosing the side of truth and justice,” said Oleksandr Korniienko, noting that he saw a strong position on the special tribunal.
He emphasised that this is an example for other countries to be sure of the responsibility of those responsible for each crime: “This will make it impossible for anyone to ever repeat the cruelty, because the awareness of inevitable punishment will make it impossible to commit new crimes against humanity.”
“We want to live in peace, not in fire. We want to preserve the values, which we are fighting for, in particular, democracy and freedom,” said Oleksandr Korniienko, expressing his gratitude for Ukraine’s support on the path of reform and change.
Speech by the First Vice-Speaker at the panel discussion on the UK’s global role in preventing conflict and armed violence
“The entire Ukrainian nation can tell you what war is. We no longer remember the dates, but we know the day of the full-scale invasion,” said Oleksandr Korniienko in his speech at the MAG (Mines Advisory Group) panel discussion on the topic: “The UK’s Global Role in Preventing Conflict and Armed Violence”.
He emphasised that 24 February 2022 is the result of actions and inaction to the events that gave rise to conflicts and violence: “We are now in the tenth year of the war and 595 days of the full-scale invasion. Could this countdown not have happened? It could. After all, our war began a long time ago.”
“It is very important that the world responds to crimes and does everything from the very beginning to “suppress” aggression when it is only hinted at, to prevent it from accumulating strength and power,” said Oleksandr Korniienko, adding that russia is still able to produce the means for its attacks and use them against civilians.
“The UK has been a leader in helping Ukraine. And this is really important and at the same time serves as an example for other countries to take appropriate steps,” he said.
At the end of his speech, the First Deputy Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine stressed that Ukraine is fighting for itself, its people and independence, as well as the security future of the world: “We stand for the common values of the free world. That is why response and timely support always have the power to stop the horrors that are unfortunately happening.”
Mental health and security challenges: visit to the national charity organisation Big Help Project
In the framework of the visit, the First Deputy Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine visited the national charity organisation Big Help Project, where he spoke with Ukrainians who were forced to flee the war and the organisation’s team.
“We want all our people to return home. We understand that to do this, we need to overcome the main challenges and problems, in particular, most of them are security ones,” said Oleksandr Korniienko, noting a separate important topic – mental health.
He asked the Big Help Project to train specialists in this area. The parties also touched upon the topic of building shelters in schools and kindergartens, agreeing to continue the dialogue in Ukraine, where the foundation’s management was invited.