The Leader moved that Standing Orders be suspended to allow her to present an emergency motion to Council, without prior written notice. This was seconded by Councillor M Evans.
Resolved: That Standing Orders be waived to enable the emergency motion to be presented.
The Leader then presented the following emergency Motion and reserved the right to speak later in the debate:
“That Newport City Council deplores the unacceptable aggression that President Putin has taken against the people of Ukraine; bringing war once more to the continent of Europe
We stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine.
Newport has a long and proud tradition of giving sanctuary to refugees and we are ready to do what we can to help those having to flee their homes and country as a result of this cruel and unwarranted invasion.
The actions of the Russian government do not respect the rule of international law or the United Nations and are rightly being condemned by democratic nations across the world.
We will support all efforts to secure a peaceful and diplomatic solution, and for conflict and loss of life to be avoided.”
The Motion was seconded by Councillor M Evans, who took the opportunity to speak. Cllr M Evans thanked the Leader for inviting him to second the Motion.
No amendments were proposed.
The Mayor also added that he supported the Ukrainians in their struggle.
Councillor M Evans went on to say:
It gives me great pleasure to formally second the motion. I don’t think there is a single person across the city who hasn’t been deeply shocked by the terrible scenes we are witnessing in Ukraine.
Ukrainians have displayed awe-inspiring bravery and heroism in the face of Russia’s attack on their sovereignty and freedom, and we need to keep providing all the economic and military support we can to help those protecting their country.
Locally I am heartened to see so many residents and organisations providing much needed clothes, toys for children and even items for pets.
It is incredibly difficult to really understand the pain, trauma and fear these people are going through, but just watching the news and pictures of a mother, whose young child has cancer having to flee, and no doubt leave her husband behind to fight, puts our problems into perspective.
We take our freedoms for granted and I guess there will be a significant number of Russians who are also horrified by Putin’s actions, but fear reprisals, you can still watch Russian TV and their distorted view of the situation, but it’s important at times like this, that we recognise how lucky we are.
Mr Mayor, I must confess I have seen some pretty atrocious statements on social media from all sides of the political spectrum, but thankfully from a mindless minority.
At times like this we need to show unity and solidarity as a city and stand together with Ukraine
Comments on the Motion from Councillors:
§ Councillor Wilcox was shocked by the unprovoked attacked. The situation was changing by the minute but people stood united in Newport, Wales and UK. There was a need to ensure that Russia was out of the economic system. The UK must clear any corrupt Russian money. Sanctions must be comprehensive with a broad response to face down aggression. The ideology was mirrored in despots and dictators around the world.
§ Councillor Davies felt that it was right to stand with Ukraine. Putin was a despot invading another country threatening to use nuclear weapons. He Invaded Ukraine in 2014 and interfered with elections around the world. Newport was proud to provide sanctuary for asylum seekers. Councillor Davies supported the motion because we were one of the same; human beings.
§ Councillor Harvey considered the plight of children and families in the Ukraine. Refugees were welcome in Newport and we would do what we could to keep them safe.
§ Councillor Lacey echoed comments of colleagues, adding that it was an unbelievable turn of events and thanked education providers in school to explain to pupils within Newport about the situation. Economic sanctions were supported as there was no price on freedom.
§ Councillor Forsey agreed that refugees must be supported during this heart-breaking situation and commended the efforts by the charity Women of Newport, UNICEF and others supporting the children and families.
§ Councillor Whitehead supported the motion and also explained that we needed to see that Russians did not accept what Putin was doing either and it was hoped that Newport would offer help with open arms to those Russians opposing the invasion.
§ Councillor Suller suggested that the Council could we send a letter to the Russian Embassy condemning the actions of their leader.
§ Councillor Cockeram supported the motion and suggested colleagues watch ex president Gorbachev on YouTube, as his opinion was insightful in relation to the situation.
§ Councillor Truman added that Ukraine was a democratic country and that innocent people were being killed. It was also deplorable that the threat of nuclear weapons was being used.
§ Councillor Jeavons referred to images such as tank driving over a car which was sickening and added that his heart went out to the people of Ukraine.
§ Councillor Spencer had full support for Ukrainian citizens and stood with them in solidarity.
§ Councillor Hussain fully supported the motion and also mentioned that there were charitable groups in Newport who would gratefully receive donations.
§ Councillor Marshall went to Kutaisi, Georgia, Newport’s Twin Town and mentioned that they were also shocked, wondering where it would end, which was worrying.
§ Councillor Horton supported the motion and mentioned that he had a Russian member of staff in his employ who had similar views as those shared this evening. Unfortunately, she had received negative remarks but we needed to ensure we also showed support for Russian people living in Newport. The Mayor suggested contacting Supt Vicki Townsend, if Councillor Horton was concerned.
§ Councillor Cleverly fully supported the motion.
§ Councillor Guy referred to an image of victim who was shopping as normal the day before and also fully supported the motion.
§ Councillor Routley said that it was heartening to see the Council join forces with one voice, from Wales, UK and Europe. Putin underestimated people’s reaction to his attack.
§ Councillor Fouweather added his concern that this invasion might not end with Ukraine.
§ Councillor J Watkins shared all the views and stood in solidarity, their bravery was humbling and would do everything to support Ukraine.
§ Councillor Mogford mentioned that there was a lot of inspiring comments. Appeasement should not be an option for dictators and despots.
§ The Leader summed up by thanking Councillor M Evans for seconding the motion and all colleagues in supporting the debate. Today in Wales, the Leader visited two of Newport schools and shared in the joy of the children and listened to a choir singing, full of enthusiasm and excitement. Because of the impact of Covid the children didn’t have that opportunity over the last two year. It therefore made the images more disturbing coming into our homes on the attack in the Ukraine. The Leader added that our thoughts were with Ukraine and the Russian citizens who did not support Putin. The Leader also thanked the polish and eastern European communities. Anyone that needed help and support were welcomed to Newport. The Leader was meeting with other LAs in Wales on 2 March to see what support could be provided. The Leader would offer strength compassion and support to those victims and refugees.
The Mayor invited Councillors to vote on the Motion.
The Mayor declared the Motion unanimously carried.