I, like you all, have watched in disbelief and horror as the unthinkable became grim reality last week when Russia invaded Ukraine.
The naked and brutal aggression of Putin is pitted against the dogged resistance and bravery of the shattered Ukrainian nation and its proud and determined people led by unbowed president, Volodymyr Zelensky.
They are fighting for their freedoms and a future, values that we ourselves have taken for granted for so long, and which now seem imperilled by one man and his grossly misguided delusions of rebuilding a lost empire, whatever the cost and by whatever increasingly barbaric methods it takes.
Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce stands firmly with Ukraine, and we will do everything we can to demonstrate our support.
I know that many businesses and individuals are organising the collection of vital supplies of clothing, blankets, sleeping bags, medical supplies, nappies, and other baby supplies for transportation to the Ukrainian border.
The Agie and Katie Polish restaurant in Burslem is one such business collecting supplies for Ukraine. At the Chambers, Sonia Bhattle is coordinating a collection o supplies in conjunction with her friend’s Telford based business.
The Government has announced that it will double the number of Ukrainians eligible to come to Britain to 200,000 and I know that private landlords are already looking at ways in which they can house the additional refugees. I am sure that as I write this there are countless initiatives, locally and nationally that are reacting to the swiftly escalating refugee crisis that is unfolding.
If you would like to help refugees, Ukrainian and others, you can offer emergency accommodation through the refugeecouncil.org.uk or roomforrefugees.com. They will support you every step of the way in providing this much-needed shelter as refugees only have a short period of time to try and get their lives more organised.
Many of our Staffordshire businesses are involved with trade with Russia and Ukraine and we are here to offer our support on all aspects of that trade through our international trade team based at the Chambers. If you need support on any international trade issues, you will find the contact details here, or call 01782 202222.
I fear we will see an escalation in violence and destruction in Ukraine and we need to brace ourselves for some dark days.
Putin had gambled on dividing opinions and loyalties in the West. However, by implementing punitive sanctions and condemnation, Europe and its allies have already shown Mr Putin that we are as one in our condemnation of his aggression.
We will continue to support the Ukrainian people in whatever way we can. Trading conditions will be difficult, prices will rise, and the flow of goods and services will be affected. However, this is a price we all must pay to defend democracy and the right to freedom and peace.
If you would like to donate any supplies for Ukraine, please email Sonia firstname.lastname@example.org
Please let us know if there are any Ukraine initiatives you would like us to publicise.
And as ever we are here to help with all your business needs, and you can contact us by calling 01782 202222 or email@example.com