THERE is something we are being spared when we look at the images being beamed back into our homes from the war-ravaged streets and fields of Ukraine.

It is something that we cannot experience as we lift up the morning newspapers.

It’s the smell. The stench of death, of diesel and munitions. The reek of melted plastic and steel. It’s the feeling, the shroud of dust on your skin, in your eyes, on everything you taste. It’s the unimaginable fear, the dread, the sense of guilt over the complete helplessness that tries to strangle all hope.

It is the deafening silence, as if the world has suddenly been turned off. It is in the cry of a child, or a parent. It’s that sound of a pensioner suddenly falling down exhausted and unable to flee any further, the panic in the voices around them.

READ MORE: David Pratt: The West cannot tell Ukraine to concede territory

In the distance, the low thump of explosions, all around the piercing wail of air raid sirens. The rattling crash as a shell or a drone thuds into a building close, all too close. The urgent chatter of rescue workers.

The silent prayer because no-one else is listening, interrupted only by the crunching underfoot of broken glass and stone from razed buildings. The presence of a helping hand being held out, a hug of comfort, a shoulder to share the weight of this agonising pain.

It’s been 80 years since anything like this was experienced here in Scotland. My gran, a survivor of the Clydebank Blitz, vividly recalled until the day she died the inescapable orange glow of the fires all around her that night.

However, amid the living disaster that has been inflicted upon Ukraine is a sound that we can all understand. The sound of laughter, the joy of a child at play, the conspiratorial cackle of young friendships.

When the world you know is being erased all around, it is the sound of children playing that lifts people up. It reminds others that our hope in the now has to be about securing their tomorrow, of finding a way through.

It is the joy of Ukrainian children that will let Vladimir Putin know he has failed. For as long as they have a future, loved by those around them, he can never win.

Today, as we reflect on a year of pain inflicted by Russia in their brutal, illegal and unjust invasion of Ukraine, I hope we keep those children front and centre of our thoughts.

The National: Vladimir Putin

I hope we remember every innocent life that has been lost to one of Vladimir Putin’s bombs, paid for by oligarchs and those propping up his cruel regime.

And that we are ready to do our bit to rebuild the lives of those youngsters who have witnessed or endured some of the worst evil that men are capable of.

Here in Scotland, I hope we will pledge to redouble our efforts to stand in solidarity with those resisting Putin and assist those taking shelter on our shores. We don’t just want them to feel safe while they are here, but also to know they are as much a part of our communities as any one of us.

The lives of thousands of Ukrainian children have been claimed by this conflict, and an estimated 3.3 million have been displaced.

One hundred and eighty thousand Russian and 100,000 Ukrainian troops have also lost their lives, with more than eight million Ukrainian civilians forced to flee.

All of this was avoidable. It was a choice, one made in Moscow.

Almost a third of Ukraine is now laced with anti-personnel mines and almost 70,000 suspected war crimes have been reported. Every victim and survivor deserves justice for the horrors that have been inflicted upon them.

READ MORE: MSPs unite to condemn Russian invasion of Ukraine on first anniversary

We do not yet know how long this war will last or what the geopolitical ramifications of its conclusion may be, but we know there are things we can do right now. We can ensure firms in Scotland are not providing support or exports to Russia and that supporters of the Putin war machine have their assets seized, neutering their threat at source. We can continue providing safety and security for people seeking refuge.

We can challenge Putin’s useful idiots here in the West, who claim to only want peace but who would actually have thousands or millions of Ukrainians continue living under the brutal occupation of Russian forces in the name of “compromise”.

Today as we observe a moment of reflection for the people of Ukraine, we must recommit to doing what we can to help our Ukrainian friends achieve peace and freedom through victory.

Khay zhyve Ukrayina. Long live a free and independent Ukraine.