Sadiq Khan vows Londoners 'stand shoulder to shoulder with Ukrainians'

The mayor of London has criticised the British Government for being 'far too slow' with 'freezing the assets of Putin’s chums'

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The mayor of London has vowed that Londoners will “stand shoulder to shoulder” with Ukrainians amid the Russian invasion.

Sadiq Khan met the Ukrainian ambassador to the UK, Vadym Prystaiko, at the Ukrainian Institute in London to offer his support for Ukraine and meet members of other Ukrainian organisations.

Mr Prystaiko passed on a request to Mr Khan from ex-heavyweight boxer and current mayor of Kyiv Vitali Klitschko for anti-tank rockets to help defend the city.

“I spoke to the mayor of Kyiv already. I asked him what would you expect me to tell the mayor of London? What support? What help?” Mr Prystaiko said.

He added: “You know what he told me? We need anti-tank rockets. He said please, I’m talking mayor to mayor.

“We will cover everything but we need to survive as a nation.”

Mr Khan described Mr Klitschko as “incredibly brave” for staying and fighting with his country.

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan meets the Ukrainian Ambassador Vadym Prystaiko at the Ukrainian Institute in west London where they discussed the situation in Ukraine and met with Ukranian community leaders. Picture date: Wednesday March 2, 2022.
The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan meets the Ukrainian Ambassador Vadym Prystaiko at the Ukrainian Institute in west London where they discussed the situation in Ukraine and met with Ukranian community leaders. Picture date: Wednesday March 2, 2022.

He added: “The British Government and the Defence Secretary are providing military assistance to the Ukrainian armed forces.

“It’s important that we do all that we can to support the people of Ukraine.”

Mr Khan said the three things in most need in Ukraine are “defensive weaponry, medical supplies and food”, and the best way to help would be to donate to organisations via the London City Hall website.

These organisations include the British Red Cross and the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain (AUGB).

The mayor said: “I’d encourage Londoners to donate generously to the charities on the website.

“Many of them are members of the Disasters Emergency Committee, so what we know is that these humanitarian charities are able to make sure the right sorts of help reaches the people of Ukraine.”

Mr Khan also criticised the British Government for being “far too slow” with “freezing the assets of Putin’s chums”.

He said: “These Russian oligarchs who are close to Putin who are using London and our country to launder some of this money, either through buying property… businesses are used as a vehicle to launder money.

“There’s no point the Government at some stage in the future publishing a list of overseas owners, complaining because these assets have been sold off.

“This delay is giving these Russian oligarchs close to Putin the time to sell their assets.”

Professor Dennis Ougrin, a Ukrainian child psychiatrist who has lived in the UK for 23 years and was at the event, said that when he first heard the news about Russian armies invading Ukraine, he was “horrified and shocked”, but that “the key to wellbeing is not to just sit there and get upset but do something”.

He added: “We are working non-stop, organising supplies, getting warehouses liaising with NHS trusts, shipping resources to the border.

“I would say for people that get upset about (the war), it’s understandable. It’s totally valid to be upset… but my advice would just be to join a group and join the acts of sympathy for Ukraine.”