Army to step in to improve UK’s Ukraine refugee response

Armed forces will step in to assist the UK’s scheme for Ukrainian refugees, a minister has said this morning.

The scheme, which has been sharply criticised in recent days is “very much under review” 

 armed forces minister James Heappey told Sky News earlier today.

He said no staff would be deployed in Calais, arguing that it made more sense for them to assist visa processing in Poland, where most refugees had fled to.

“We’ll supply as many people as they need in order to get the highest number of people processed in the quickest time possible,” Heappey explained when quizzed over how the Ministry of Defence would be helping.

“And then the Home Secretary has got some choices which I know she’s considering about how to further change the visa process and what checks might be necessary within it.

“You have to balance on the one hand risks to the United Kingdom and I accept people will look at these TV screens and say look there is an immediate imperative to waive all this stuff and do it quicker. I know she is looking very, very carefully about what bits of policy can be changed to do that.”

He also rejected claims an agreement between Russia and Ukraine could be broached as of now, telling Sky News: “What compromise would you suggest is acceptable?

“Four weeks ago Ukraine was a sovereign country, living peacefully without threatening its neighbours, within its own border.

“I don’t know that the international community should be turning round to President Zelensky and say it’s time to reward Putin, with having basically bullied him out of the Donbas and to write off the Crimea.”

He also accused Russia of committing a war crime following the news that its forces had destroyed aa maternity hospital in Mariupol, south-eastern Ukraine.