THE war in Ukraine is difficult to write about. To think about this illegal invasion of a democratic country by an authoritarian madman is angering enough, but the threat to Ukraine should stir fear and determination in the rest of us.

As I am writing this, the news of Russian forces shelling Europe’s largest nuclear power plant is still breaking. More than one million Ukrainian people have had to flee their homes, and the EU estimates up to three million more may have to do the same. Putin is being investigated for war crimes, but given that he has instructed his forces to target civilians, it’s fair to say the investigation need not be a long one.

Putin has had, as far as I can tell, one singular goal in the last decade, and that has been to sew disruption in the West. Why did he devote resources to disinformation campaigns aiding Trump’s election and the Brexit Leave campaign? To weaken Nato, to weaken the EU, and weaken the alliances that have kept Europe from falling back into war for almost 80 years. Frankly, he has – until now – been very successful. There is no denying that Trump’s first term as president of the United States put massive strain on relations between the largely democratic Western nations. There is no question that Brexit was a shock felt at the core of the EU and we should be extremely grateful it survived, seemingly united more than ever.

The National: Many have called for tougher sanctions from the UK GovernmentMany have called for tougher sanctions from the UK Government

However, if the invasion of Ukraine was intended to cause further rupture in the West, Putin has made a serious miscalculation. Maybe I’m too cynical, but I thought it would be a very long time until we saw Western countries coming together as they have since the invasion began.

The US, the EU and the UK have imposed sanctions on Russia, and have assisted in getting military and humanitarian aid flooding into Ukraine from all across the globe. Journalists are standing in the war zone risking their lives to ensure we all learn the truth of what is happening on the ground. Russian propaganda channels like RT and Sputnik have been shunned. The EU has committed that all 27 member states will offer Ukrainian refugees a blanket right to work and live in their countries.

This week there was a spontaneous standing ovation in the House of Commons as the Ukrainian Ambassador was introduced by the Speaker. “The UK is well out in front in our willingness to help with refugees,” the Prime Minister reassured at a London-based Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral. A lovely scene showing just how committed our government is to helping Ukrainian people survive and thrive. Think again.

Offering safety to humans fleeing a warzone is the most basic and humane thing we could ever do, and the UK is failing. Ireland has dropped all visa requirements for those fleeing the war, whereas the UK will only accept the immediate family members of those already settled in Britain. Look past the platitudes and we see Kevin Foster, a Home Office minister, suggest that Ukrainians might like to apply for one of their much-hailed seasonal worker visas.

ITV recently reported that 92,000 refugees have come to Britain since 2015, which is less than the number of refugees Austria, Italy, Spain, Sweden, France and Germany have taken. The UK is not “out in front”, we are seventh in Europe.

Where the EU is offering a guarantee of safety to Ukrainian citizens, the UK is still forcing people to apply for family visas, or even get businesses to sponsor them. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I would fare well applying for an overseas job whilst in the middle of a warzone.

READ MORE: Why UK absolutely MUST open doors to more refugees from Ukraine

The Conservatives are great at appearing solemn and sincere in their concerns and efforts, but the truth always tells a different story. It’s the nasty party in full effect.

Where this Tory government has placed sanctions on Russia, they are still not good enough. One of the worst-kept secrets is that Russian oligarchs hide their wealth in London property, stock, or other form of asset. The Prime Minister has dragged his heels in rooting out Russian dirty money, but when you consider the Tory party’s donor list, that really should be of no surprise.

For example, in the last three months of 2021, former Russian banker Lubov Chernukhin donated another £80,250 to the Conservative Party, on top of the £2 million she has donated since 2012. The reason this matters is because she was married to Vladimir Chernukhin, who was a key minister working closely with Vladimir Putin.

The Pandora Papers revealed that her wealth comes from her former husband. Ms Chernukhin literally bought the chance to play tennis with then PM David Cameron, and current PM Boris Johnson in 2014. After donating £135,000, she had dinner with Theresa May and six Cabinet ministers. The Tories even accepted £50,000 from Ms Chernukhin on the very same day Theresa May said it was highly likely Russia was behind the Salisbury poisonings. The Government response to this from Liz Truss was: “All donations to the Conservative Party are from people on the electoral register in Britain, those donations are properly declared.”

READ MORE: Zaporizhzhia: Fire extinguished at Europe's biggest nuclear plant after Russian shelling

The UK has signed up to all the big sanctions, such as removing Russia from the Swift payment system, but has given individuals and companies until the end of March to wind down transactions. We are literally giving Oligarchs the chance to move their dirty assets. Not only can friends of Putin literally buy time with those in power in the UK, but this government will happily help them, and do it in front of your face. We can do more, and we must do more.