Outgoing First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has told Ukrainian refugees that Scotland will be their home for as long as it needs to be, marking the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion.
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022 after president Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation” seeking the “demilitarisation” and “denazification” of Ukraine.
Since the invasion, tens of thousands of people have died as a result of the conflict and around 17 million people are currently displaced, either within Ukraine or as refugees across Europe.
About 23,000 Ukrainians have been welcomed to Scotland through the super sponsor scheme.
Sturgeon told refugees in an open letter: “It is with great sadness that the world will mark the first anniversary of Russia’s latest illegal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine on Friday.
“On this day, we will all pause to reflect on the many impacts of the war on the people of Ukraine. In particular, we will mourn those who have lost their lives.
“Every day in Ukraine, lives are disrupted and in danger. There are almost daily reports of atrocities, including Russia’s barbaric missile attacks against civilians.
“Our hearts go out to all Ukrainians, including those who have settled here in Scotland and in other countries. I know how much you fear for the safety of loved ones back home and yearn to return to your own country and way of life.
“All of us wish a speedy victory for Ukraine and a resolution which restores peace and ensures Ukrainian sovereignty, democracy, independence and territorial integrity.
“We also hope that those displaced by the war can return and be reunited with their families, friends, communities and country.
“I hope all of you, amidst your anxiety and suffering, have been heartened by the scale of the international humanitarian response since the invasion.”
She added: “Scotland has so far welcomed more than 23,000 Ukrainians into our communities, the majority of which arrived through our super sponsor scheme.
“The national response is unprecedented and we have worked closely with partners, local authorities and community groups to offer our Ukrainian friends a ‘warm Scottish welcome’.
“It is vital that we continue to support displaced people from Ukraine for as long as they need help.
“While I hope those of you who want to return to Ukraine can do so safely when you can, my message to those seeking sanctuary remains clear: Scotland is your home for as long as you need it to be.