London: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion can come to the UK if they already have members of their immediate family settled in the country.

As part of a new GBP 40 million humanitarian package for the supply of basic necessities and medical supplies such as medicines, syringes, dressings and wound care pack, Johnson confirmed that any person settled in the UK will be able to bring their Ukrainian immediate family members to join them here.

Downing Street said this would benefit many thousands of people who at this moment are making desperate choices about their future.

“The UK will not turn our backs in Ukraine’s hour of need. We are providing all the economic and military support we can to help those Ukrainians risking everything to protect their country, Johnson said.

“In the last days the world has witnessed awe-inspiring displays of bravery and heroism from the Ukrainian people in response to those who seek to obliterate their freedom by force, he said.

More details of the new Ukrainian visa policy is set to be announced in Parliament this week.

“We want to be as generous as we possibly can, and certainly we want people who have relatives in Ukraine to be able to bring them over as fast as possible. We want to make sure that we have routes for people fleeing disaster, war, persecution in Ukraine to come here,” Johnson told reporters.

UK government humanitarian experts have also deployed to the region to support those fleeing the violence in Ukraine. Downing Street said the weekend assistance package brings the total amount of UK government aid pledged to Ukraine this year to GBP 140 million.

Last week, Prime Minister Johnson also announced the UK would guarantee up to USD 500 million of loans to Ukraine through Multilateral Development Banks and the UK said it continues to supply defensive military equipment to the Ukrainian military to bolster their resistance against invading Russian forces.

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said: Putin’s regime has undertaken an illegal and violent assault against the people of Ukraine.

The UK will provide GBP 40 million in aid to help our Ukrainian friends, more funding to tackle what is becoming a humanitarian crisis. We stand with Ukraine, shoulder to shoulder, in its hour of need.

During a visit to the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in London on Sunday evening, Johnson delivered a similar message of support saying that the UK would fulfil its neighbourly duty to Ukraine. He also made a clear distinction that it was the Russian leadership led by President Vladimir Putin who was responsible for the crisis and not the Russian people.

Never in all my study, my memory of politics and international affairs have I seen so clear a distinction between right and wrong, between good and evil, between light and dark. And that is the real reason why Ukraine is our neighbour today, Johnson said in his address to the congregation.

I want to stress that there is no hostility in my part towards the Russian people. None whatever. Quite the reverse. My heart aches for the Russian parents who are already losing their children in this vicious and appalling war, just as it aches for the civilians and the people of Ukraine. But when it comes to the Russian leadership that chose this path of violence, and I stress chose, this path of violence and aggression, there can be no possible excuse, he added.

He said the people of Ukraine were facing “the darkest times in modern memory” and described Russia’s invasion as a “barbaric and unprovoked attack”.

In his latest phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday, Johnson promised further military aid for Ukrainian forces.

President Zelenskyy said he believed the next 24 hours was a crucial period for Ukraine, and the Prime Minister said he would do all he could to help ensure defensive aid from the UK and allies reached Ukraine. The leaders agreed to continue to stay in close contact and the Prime Minister reiterated the UK’s staunch support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, Downing Street said in a readout of the call.

Meanwhile, there have been several demonstrations held in support of Ukraine in different parts of the UK, including vigils and protests in London and also in Scotland and Wales.

Also read: Stranded Indians in Kyiv told to move to railway station for onward journey

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