The invasion of Ukraine is a violation of a sovereign European democracy and a tragedy for millions of people who have been plunged into a maelstrom of suffering and oppressive uncertainty.
Parents in Kyiv and Kharkiv put their children to bed on Wednesday night with hopeful promises that they would be safe. They have wakened on Thursday morning to the horror of Putin’s airstrikes and exchanges of gunfire. These are the people who will lose the most as the European continent stands on the precipice of a terrible conflict.
What has happened in Ukraine demands the strongest possible response from the international community but particularly from our European partners. This is the greatest test of European Solidarity since the end of the second world war, but more than that, it is a test of our common humanity.
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For far too long, Putin’s toxic ideology has been allowed to foment discord and division beyond his own borders. He is at war, not just over territory falsely claimed, but with the European values of coexistence and respect for difference and diversity.
The political situation in the Donbas may be complex but the simple truth is that the tyranny of one is about to bring misery and suffering to millions.
The sanctions brought to bear against Putin’s regime must go further than a small handful of oligarchs — it must be severe; it must hurt Moscow and it must threaten his position. That also means dismantling the influence and power of money and political donations in London from individuals close to the Russian state.
The natural consequence of such action is that it will cause economic pain for us and other European states as well. This will not be easy but we must be prepared to shoulder some of the pain to ease the burden on the people of Ukraine. Every political party in Ireland should stand visibly and vocally in solidarity with them today. We must all be prepared to take the action necessary to end this invasion.
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