WEST Scotland Conservative MSP, Jamie Greene, writes for the Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald...

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SINCE my last article the world has watched on in shock as Vladimir Putin’s forces have conducted a horrific full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

I have been appalled by the actions of Russian troops, including the indiscriminate bombing of innocent people just trying to go about their lives.

However, whilst we are seeing some of the worst of humanity, we are also seeing some of the best.

Here at home, I have been struck by the response of residents across North Ayrshire who have come together to support Ukrainian citizens in so many ways.

Individuals, businesses, charities, North Ayrshire Council and other organisations the length and breadth of our community have shown tremendous kindness and generosity to help those in need.

The Hunterston Rotary Club organised a collection which their members selflessly donated to.

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The Morrisons store in Largs raised hundreds of pounds from their customers.

North Ayrshire Council have offered sanctuary to Ukrainian refugees through their Refugee Task Force which will identify suitable accommodation and help refugees access vital services such as GPs and schools.

I have also been encouraged by the response of both the UK and Scottish Governments.

Although we can always do better, I do believe that we have led the way in many areas.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: Jamie Greene MSPJamie Greene MSP

Politics has largely been put aside with MSPs and MPs coming together to condemn Russia’s actions, sanction them and support Ukraine’s defence effort.

On sanctions, we have led the way on shutting Russia out of the international banking system (which many other countries were initially reluctant to do), freezing the assets of all Russian banks with immediate effect and punishing hundreds of companies and oligarchs at the heart of Putin’s regime, as part of a whole raft of economic measures.

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We have also played a leading role in supporting Ukraine’s defence, including training 22,000 members of the Ukrainian army, providing 3,600+ anti-armour missiles which are being put to good use, and the UK Government have pledged more than £220 million in humanitarian aid.

This is only a small fraction of our overall package of support and there will be more to come in the weeks and months ahead.

I also know from my inbox that people across North Ayrshire are rightly concerned about the plight of Ukrainian refugees.

We have a proud tradition of welcoming with open arms those fleeing war and persecution and I’m in no doubt that this approach will continue.

Visa rule changes were recently announced which would allow many hundreds of thousands to settle in the UK and on the first day alone more than 100,000 people signed up to the government’s ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme, offering shelter to those in need.

Details for this can be found at homesforukraine.campaign.gov.uk.

This will not be a short war for Ukraine, nor an easy one, but I know local residents, the Scottish Government and the UK Government, our Armed Forces, our civil service, and our charity sector will continue to play a huge role in supporting those who need our help – at the end of the day Putin must not, and will not, be allowed to succeed.