Scottish diplomat defies Putin to toast Robert Burns at Kyiv event

Martin Harris, from Edinburgh, toasted Scotland’s National Bard on Wednesday at a poetry event at the British Embassy in Kyiv on Wednesday.

Scottish diplomat defies Vladimir Putin to toast Robert Burns at Kyiv event fcdo via Supplied

The UK’s Ambassador to Ukraine has hosted a celebration of Robert Burns in defiance of Vladimir Putin at the British Embassy in Kyiv.

Martin Harris, from Edinburgh, toasted Scotland’s National Bard on Wednesday at a poetry and music event at the British Embassy in Kyiv – despite the Kremlin having stepped up its drone and missile strikes on the Ukrainian capital.

Mr Harris, donning a kilt and a Ukrainian ‘vyshyvanka’, hosted 30 guests to celebrate Scottish culture and music with performances of Burns’ work, as well as readings of Ukrainian poetry.

The event began with a minute’s silence to remember 95 Ukrainian writers and poets have been killed on the front line since the war began.

The event featured performances of Burns’ work.

Foreign secretary David Cameron said the event said a lot about the “passion” for Robert Burns.

He said: “Burns Night is a great opportunity to celebrate the important efforts of the many Scots working across the UK Government’s global network, who are at the very forefront of delivering our foreign policy around the world.

“It says a lot about the passion for Robert Burns that events are being hosted in so many countries, not least in war-torn Ukraine.

“The £2.5bn of military aid announced by the Prime Minister on his visit to Kyiv earlier this month shows that the UK is unfaltering in our determination to stand up to Vladimir Putin’s attack on freedom and democracy.”

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