War in Ukraine: SNP warning that ‘Ukraine fatigue’ could allow Vladimir Putin to ‘open new chapter in human history’
In a report to be discussed in a fringe event at the SNP conference today, MP Stewart McDonald warned the world needs to ensure against "Ukraine fatigue" and continue to stand with the country to "punish" Russia for its crimes against humanity.
He also warned there was a risk that as the war continues, “anti-asylum seeker rhetoric” could be on the rise within politics.
The report, Steeling Our Resolve, states the international community needs to “harness all sectors of society” to continue to support Ukraine, while the Ukrainian Government needs to be financially supported in the first phase of its reconstruction process to help create the conditions for Ukrainians who want to return home, to do so.
The Ukrainian Government, with the European Commission and the World Bank, has estimated the cost of reconstruction and recovery across social, production and infrastructure sectors for the damage incurred in the first four months of the invasion alone to be $349 billion [£314bn].
It also called for there to be a crackdown on loopholes that allow Mr Putin’s inner circle to launder money and commit fraud using UK-based financial vehicles, such as Scottish Limited Partnerships [SLPs]. Earlier this year, Scottish secretary Alister Jack vowed to take further action against SLPs in the next Parliament.
Mr McDonald, also a member of Westminster’s foreign affairs select committee, said: “One thing we must guard against – and what is the main motivation behind this paper – is so-called ‘Ukraine fatigue’. Whilst polling tells us that overall support for Ukraine remains strong, the impact Russia’s war is having on the cost-of-living crisis is also having an impact on public attitudes to maintaining and strengthening sanctions on Russia.
"We must not shy away from this, but instead make a concerted effort to demonstrate to the public the importance of standing with Ukraine and punishing Russia for the crimes it is committing – crimes that include the indiscriminate bombing of civilians, executions, torture, and sexual violence.”
He added: “Ukraine is not only fighting for its freedom, but for the freedom of the democratic world and the rules based order. If Vladimir Putin is allowed to succeed in his war of colonial aggression, he will open a new chapter in human history which will see us regress to a world without rules or norms – a world where like human life is, to quote Hobbes, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”
The report pointed to a YouGov poll published in September, which shows that people are less likely to support Russian sanctions if they have an effect on the cost of living in the UK, or cause power blackouts.
The report says: “Whilst polling shows support for Ukraine remaining high, there is slippage when it is factored against the cost-of-living crisis.
“There is still some way to go before we start to see calls to reduce support for Ukraine to help with the cost of living, but this is something that we must keep a watchful eye on – particularly as household budgets come under significant pressure.”
In a foreword to the report, Kyiv politician Lesia Vasylenko, People's Deputy of Ukraine, warned while the world has had a “unanimous understanding” of the situation Ukraine has found itself in after the invasion, she admitted the country was “still quite some way from a final victory”.
She said: “This winter will bring a critical test – will democracies stay united in the war of attrition Russia is again waging against the world?”
Ms Vasylenko described Russia’s aims as an “imperialistic ambition” to extinguish the Ukrainian nation along with its language and culture.
She said: “Winning this war for Ukraine means winning the right to exist. This is also an existential struggle for the very concepts of democracy, freedom and sovereignty. If Ukraine falls, these concepts will tumble with it, emboldening autocrats across the world to commit more atrocities.”
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