There is of course one story dominating all our thoughts this week. I am heartbroken and furious that since the publication of last week’s Reporter, Russia has indeed invaded Ukraine. This aggression is unprovoked and unjustifiable. It will have horrendous and tragic consequences.

We must stand with the people of Ukraine, and I have been moved by the strength of feeling from constituents. It’s a small gesture but I was privileged to sign the UK Parliament’s book of solidarity on behalf of everyone in Stalybridge, Hyde, Mossley, Longdendale and Dukinfield, which will be sent to the Ukrainian Parliament. In politics we get used to divisions of opinion within any population. From Brexit to how will live with Covid, opinions are as diverse on most subjects as the people. It is heartening that on this war, my mailbag speaks largely with one impassioned voice. Whether you are left, right, liberal, authoritarian or none of the above, Tameside is standing with the Ukraine and against the horrific actions of Putin. Standing together.

So far, so devastating. Russia has invaded from multiple directions, north, south, and east. This goes beyond the breakaway regions in the east of Ukraine. Putin’s army has surrounded Kyiv, with the intention we assume of overthrowing the Government, installing a pro-Russian puppet state.  Ukraine has put up a remarkable defence, with almost 6000 Russian military casualties estimated as I write. It is unclear how long they will be able to withstand Russia’s military superiority. President Volodymyr Zelensky, once an actor whose political party, Servant of the People, was named after his sitcom, finds himself at the heart of a terrifying junction in history. We admire his defiance and pray for his safety.

Thousands of people have been displaced by these terrible events, and there must immediately be a safe and legal route for Ukrainian people to come to the UK, either based on the Hong Kong or Balkans schemes. And as Shadow Business Secretary, I am working hard to see Russia hit where it hurts, from banking to football and beyond.

The consequences of this will last years. The security situation in Europe has now fundamentally changed and we will have to respond to that, with the role of NATO being critical. This war will have a material impact on all of our lives, not least on fuel prices, in what is already a cost of living crisis. Most importantly, there is the human cost, which, unlike in many previous wars, is there to seen on our rolling news and social media streams: babies born in bomb shelters, families separated, loved ones lost. Our hearts go out to them.

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