City leaders have come together to discuss Edinburgh’s ongoing response to the Ukraine crisis.
At a summit held in the City Chambers, Council Leader Adam McVey and Depute Leader Cammy Day hosted Acting Consul General of Ukraine, Yevhen Mankovskyi, and Father Vasyl Kren of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Edinburgh.
They were joined by Lord Provost Frank Ross, EVOC Chief Executive Bridie Ashrowan, Superintendent Mark Rennie of Police Scotland, Vice Principal of the University of Edinburgh James Smith and Council Chief Executive Andrew Kerr. Together, they reiterated the City’s condemnation of the ongoing Russian invasion and reaffirmed support for the people of Ukraine and Edinburgh’s twin city, Kyiv.
They heard from Mr Mankovskyi and Father Kren about the scale of the crisis and what their people are facing, the Edinburgh-Ukrainian community’s ongoing relief efforts and what Edinburgh can do to support.The group discussed the logistics required to coordinate and transport humanitarian aid to and from Poland and the level of support the Council could provide to Ukrainian family members and refugees arriving in Edinburgh, including accommodation, education and other services.
It was confirmed that Edinburgh no longer held any civic links with Russian cities, having previously ended its twinning with St Petersburg, and the Council is reviewing all significant contracts to determine what (if any) Russian links exist, to consider the potential for withdrawal.
The Lothian Pension Fund has done likewise with its investments.
Following cross-party criticism of the invasion last week, Council Leaders confirmed they would seek to formalise political condemnation and confirm next steps at their meeting on 15 March. Coordination of the City’s support will also be discussed at a meeting of the Edinburgh Partnership Board the same week.
The Lord Provost has already written to the Major of Kyiv to express Edinburgh’s ‘deep sorrow’ and support while a Russian Philharmonic concert, due to take place at the Usher Hall in May, has been cancelled.
Council Leader Adam McVey said: “I want to thank the Acting Consul General and Father Kren for their time during what is a particularly harrowing and difficult time for them and their country.
“We have all witnessed the heart-breaking stories of loss and families torn apart in the media; but also of the great bravery and resistance by the people of Ukraine. We stand by everyone suffering this illegal war and the Ukrainian flag continues to fly defiantly above the City Chambers.
“Already people across Edinburgh have responded with incredible generosity, with countless individuals and organisations continuing to provide selfless offers of support, donations and solidarity. Today, we reiterated our support for the people of Ukraine and our commitment to do all we can to help as a City.
“We are considering practical actions to support people in our twin City Kyiv and across Ukraine and will work with groups across Edinburgh to coordinate efforts. We are united against this war and are also exploring actions to use the Council’s position to pursue further sanctions we can implement locally against the Russian regime. We’ll be asking Councillors to agree actions at the Council meeting later this month.”
Depute Leader Cammy Day said:“Edinburgh has a long history with Kyiv and is home to more Scottish-Ukrainian descendants than anywhere else in Scotland. Together we stand ready to help, in any way we can. Edinburgh welcomes Ukraine citizens to our city, and all of us will do everything we can to support all.
“The outpouring of compassion and the sight of hundreds of residents protesting has been moving. I want to pay tribute to the incredible response from citizens and businesses from across the city and their generous offers of donations and support. We will offer our help to coordinate this across our city – now we need to harness the goodwill and do our part again to direct our time and support in the most useful way.”
The Scottish Government has called on businesses in Scotland to show solidarity to Ukraine by withdrawing from trade with Russia. The Finance and Economy Secretary, Kate Forbes, has asked companies to take economic action by reviewing any links with Russia and severing them.
Ms Forbes wrote to business earlier this week outlining that The Scottish Government will use all available powers not to support trade and investment with Russia and the government will offer support and advice to businesses as they adapt to removing these trade links.