Ukrainian ambassador Vadym Prystaiko thanks 'the people of Portsmouth' for life-saving donations to Ukraine after he was cheered by MPs in the House of Commons

HOURS after receiving a standing ovation from MPs in the House of Commons, Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK was cheering on the people of Portsmouth for their ‘life-saving’ efforts to support his under-siege homeland.

By Tom Cotterill
Thursday, 3rd March 2022, 4:55 am

Vadym Prystaiko last night expressed his deep-held thanks for the city’s army of selfless heroes who have mobilised to support Ukraine as it fights for its freedom against Vladimir Putin’s invading Russian military.

People across the area have been scrambling to do what they can to help Ukraine, with donation sites springing up in Portsmouth, Fareham and Gosport.

Medical supplies, warm clothing, boots and body armour have been donated in their droves.

UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor Handout photo issued by UK Parliament of ambassador of Ukraine to the UK Vadym Prystaiko in the public gallery as he was given a standing ovation by MPs. Picture date: Wednesday March 2, 2022.

And veterans from across the south have mobilised, too, either donating their unwanted military kit or vowing to risk their lives by travelling to Ukraine’s frontlines and fighting.

Speaking exclusively to The News, an overwhelmed Mr Prystaiko said: ‘Thank you to the people of Portsmouth and across Hampshire.

‘This equipment will save lives. Your city understands how important this fight is – we must ensure Ukraine prevails. Thank you.’

Earlier in the day, the diplomat was cheered loudly by MPs as he watched prime minister’s questions in the House of Commons.

A hand of friendship: Ukraine's ambassador to the UK Vadym Prystaiko shakes the hand of Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt as he praises the city for its efforts supporting Ukraine

Mr Prystaiko sat in a side gallery in the chamber and received applause for almost a minute after speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle announced he was in attendance.

Sir Lindsay said: ‘Your excellency, we generally do not allow applause in this chamber, but on this occasion the House quite rightly will want to demonstrate our respect and support for your country and its people in the most difficult of times.’

Penny Mordaunt, Portsmouth North MP, spoke with the ambassador after the session in parliament, in which Boris Johnson condemned president Putin for his ‘abhorrent’ invasion.

Ms Mordaunt, who has teamed up with The News to collect essential military kit for Ukraine, said she was blown away by the support from the city so far.

MPs in the House of Commons give a standing ovation to Ambassador of Ukraine to the UK Vadym Prystaiko, cheering loudly for a minute. UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

Speaking last night after shaking the ambassador’s hand, the former defence secretary urged the British public not to relent and to continue to give in whatever way they can.

‘As well as the practical help, this tactical kit will bring, the message of support it sends is important too,’ the trade minister added. ‘People will know they are in our hearts.’

The News’s HQ inside the Lakeside business park in North Harbour has been inundated with donations of military kit.

Everything from helmets, body armour and bags of warm clothing to emergency medical supplies and boots have been handed in.

The News's offices have been inundated with donations from across Hampshire

Portsmouth City Council is also stepping in, offering one of its warehouses to store donations until they can be shipped to Ukraine.

The support comes as the war in Ukraine today marks its first week.

Russian forces reportedly inflicted ‘colossal destruction’ on the Ukrainian port of Mariupol after ‘14 hours of non-stop attacks’, the city's mayor said last night.

‘There are many wounded and unfortunately many civilians dead, women, children, old people,’ Vadym Boichenko said in a live broadcast on Ukrainian television.

Earlier, Boris Johnson lashed out at Putin in the Commons and said: ‘Putin has gravely miscalculated. In his abhorrent assault on a sovereign nation, he has under-estimated the extraordinary fortitude of the Ukrainian people and the unity and resolve of the free world in standing up to his barbarism.’

Last night the United Nations voted overwhelmingly for a resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, calling for the immediate withdrawal of its forces.

MPs in the House of Commons, London, give a standing ovation to Ambassador of Ukraine to the UK Vadym Prystaiko who was sitting in the public gallery. Picture date: Wednesday March 2, 2022.

In an historic emergency session of the UN’s general assembly, 141 of the 193 member states voted for the resolution, 35 abstained, and five voted against.

The only countries to vote no in support of Moscow were Belarus, North Korea, Eritrea and Syria. Longstanding allies Cuba and Venezuela joined China in abstaining.

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