'There will be no flood of winter refugees from Ukraine', says deputy PM

30 November 2022, 21:09

There will be no winter refugee crisis from Ukraine, the deputy PM has said
There will be no winter refugee crisis from Ukraine, the deputy PM has said. Picture: LBC/Getty

By Kit Heren

Ukrainians will not leave the country in droves this winter, despite Russian bombardment, the country's deputy Prime Minister has said.

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Ukraine’s electricity grid is coming under pressure from repeated Russian attacks, and large swathes of the country are without power in the bitter cold of winter.

But first Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Economy Yulia Svyrydenko told LBC on Wednesday that "Ukrainians once again showed their resilience, and they are preparing to stay in the country."

She said: "Yes, we are preparing for the hard-heating season", adding that the electricity grid could suffer further blackouts.

"But I don’t think that, according to us and our estimation and expectations, there won’t be winter refugees."

Yulia Svyrydenko says Ukraine people will once again show their resilience

Some 12 million refugees have left Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion in February, according to the UN. More than 100,000 have come to the UK.

Ms Svyrydenko was in London to agree a digital trade deal with the UK, which the British government say will provide companies from both countries with easier access to each other's markets. The UK already has a zero-tariff trade agreement with Ukraine.

As part of the deal, the government says that Ukrainian businesses will have guaranteed access to UK-based financial services companies, which should help the country's recovery after the Russian invasion.

The UK and Ukraine will also collaborate more on cybersecurity and emerging technologies, and the deal will streamline digital border processes, including electronic transactions, e-signatures, and e-contracts.

Kemi Badenoch, the UK's international trade secretary, told LBC: "We’re working to give them something to go back to, so the work that we’re doing with the trade minister today and the infrastructure minister… is all about making sure that Ukraine has the right support to rebuilt into a better place than it was before."

But Ms Svyrydenko said Ukraine wanted more than just a trade deal with the UK - they wanted Western countries to pile more sanctions onto Russia.

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She said: I would say from one side we really appreciate your assistance and the assistance of other European countries…

"But what I suggest to different countries is to strengthen the sanctions.

"It’s one way, it’s a soft power, it’s a soft weapon. It might have a huge impact on the Russian economy, decreasing their export revenues, and it means that they will be able to finance war less.

"So that’s why I think it’s crucial to continue with sanction policy and we discuss it today as well."