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First Anniversary of Ukraine Invasion

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 2 March 2023

Tags: Condolence

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Speaker, I rise on behalf of the Greens, to share our heartache at the events that have unfolded in the past year. I acknowledge the members of the Ukrainian community diaspora who are here with us today. The last 361 days, every day would have been full of pain and suffering.

It was an invasion by Vladimir Putin that was with no right and no legality and utterly without provocation. The Ukraine sovereign country was and is peaceful at heart. It has, at its core, a desire to strengthen democracy. It is a sovereign nation.

Vladimir Putin is using the oldest of methods, the medieval law of force against a democracy and also against the international rule of law. That is the price the Ukrainian people are paying. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance, but it is also defence when it is called upon. It is so necessary today.

I will not forget, for the rest of my life, the moment when Volodymyr Zelenskyy chose to leave the safety of the presidential palace. He walked out into the public square and shot a video with three other people from his Cabinet. That moment was the turning point for everyone else on the planet. It gave us a sense of the strength and unity of the Ukrainian people. I can bet, and I think everyone else here would agree, that Putin in no way thought that Volodymyr Zelenskyy would stand and fight with his people. They were banking on him disappearing, running away and standing outside the country and trying to be president from afar. But you cannot fight and unite people from outside the country. He took the brave stand. He was an inspiration.

The Ukrainian people have been the real inspiration. What they have endured over the last 361 days, and are still enduring, those of them who are living in the country. There are 14 million Ukrainians estimated to have had to flee their homes; five million of them are outside the country and 2.5 million have been forcibly removed, kidnapped, taken to Russia and other countries against their will, and who know what has happened to those people? We have no idea.

This man is not mad, he is a sociopath. He is very clear about what he is doing. He is not insane, he is actually sane, and that is the problem. That calls on us to do everything we can to condemn him as the war criminal he is.

Human Rights Watch has been very clear in their recent assessment of what has happened with the invasion by Russia of Ukraine. They say that Russian forces have committed war crimes, they maintain they are crimes against humanity, horrific abuses, especially with an unconscionable disregard for civilians.

We have seen incredible horrors enacted on the civilian population. Women in particular have been singled out for all manner of sexual violence, and older women and girls are particularly the main victims and survivors. Prisoners of war have been killed and tortured and there has been indiscriminate bombing of cultural places and civic spaces, so that if Putin is able to do what he is hoping, if he cannot take the country, he will bomb it into oblivion. It makes an utter pretence of his argument that he is seeking to 'liberate' the Ukrainian people. He is doing everything he can to annihilate them.

There must be international justice and Putin and the perpetrators of this violence in the Russian forces have to be held to account for their crimes and we, along with the rest of the international community, will do everything we can to bring them to justice.

It is important to recognise that this has changed the political space forever around the world, obviously, but particularly it has brought a collectivism not just in Ukraine but in the EU and in NATO. Ukraine itself is in the process of joining NATO and Finland and Sweden, who have never ever broken their stance of neutrality, recognise and support them in going through the process of becoming NATO members. They understand we must stand together against bullies and stand together against dictators who will stop at nothing. Were we to move away from our support of the defence of Ukraine, who would be next? When would it end? It will never end until Putin and the Russian forces are gone from all of Ukrainian soil. Not one centimetre is negotiable.

On behalf of the Greens, I can say how much the Ukrainian people are in our hearts. We do cheer them on when they have successes and we grieve with them because we see the bombing and the pain and every time we listen to a news report, it is with the relentless sound of guns and bombing. While we have been speaking here, who knows how many Ukrainians have died in defence of their country?

We will do everything we can. We encourage the Government to support more sanctions and put more resources in and we especially support all efforts to support Ukrainians and the Ukrainian community and to help them help their family and friends in Ukraine in the defence of their homeland.