Ukraine is “very lucky” to have friends across Scotland, delegates at the SNP annual party conference have been told.
Ukrainian MP Lesia Vasylenko addressed delegates in Aberdeen on Saturday, where she thanked the people of Scotland for providing humanitarian aid and taking in refugees from her country during the Russian invasion.
Ms Vasylenko said: “It’s a great honour to be here on the stage, addressing your 88th conference of the Scottish National Party.
“It’s an even bigger honour for me to be representing the people of Ukraine up on this stage. It’s just that I wish I was addressing you today as Lesia Vasylenko, member of parliament of Ukraine, chair of the environmental sub-committee on climate change, talking about Ukraine’s input and impact in dealing with global challenges.
“Instead, I am addressing you today as Lesia Vasylenko, member of a wartime parliament of Ukraine that is fighting very hard for its existence and for the physical survival of its people.
“That is first and foremost, but of course we are also fighting to defend the very meaning of the concepts of freedom, democracy and human rights.”
Ms Vasylenko said that being a member of parliament in wartime is “hard, it’s frustrating, it’s emotional, it’s a rollercoaster”.
“Every day, it’s a rollercoaster and it’s so much more than that.
“Most importantly, it’s exactly like being Ukrainian these days. Waking up every day since that dreadful day on February 24. Making sure you and the people in your home are OK, are still alive.
“And then doing one thing, at least one little thing, to make sure that Ukrainians – a 44-million nation – is also alive for that one more day.”
She said her country “admires the courage” of Scots who have signed up to the Ukrainian International Territorial Defence Battalion.
The MP added: “We in Ukraine say thank you to the Scottish families who have taken almost 20,000 Ukrainian women, children and senior citizens.
“You have opened your homes and you have opened your hearts for us at the time of most need.
“Your government has been sending humanitarian aid since the first weeks of the escalation of this nightmare aggression. Scottish businesses and communities have stepped up alike, sending trucks full of huge medical supplies, building materials and other things needed by Ukrainian communities living along the combat line.”
Ms Vasylenko was introduced by Neil Gray, minister with special responsibility for refugees from Ukraine, who also thanked the people of Scotland for their efforts.
He said: “We have provided £4 million in humanitarian aid, millions of pounds of medical equipment, £65 million towards military support, and conference, thanks to the First Minister’s idea of the super-sponsor scheme, we have now welcomed over 20,000 displaced Ukrainians here in Scotland.
“So I want to thank the people of Scotland for everything they are doing to continue their support for those arriving from Ukraine and giving them a warm Scottish welcome.”