Adam Price addresses ‘controversy’ over Ukraine visit after ‘reckless’ criticism
Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price has addressed the “controversy” caused by his visit to Ukraine, saying that he is there “obviously” not there to solve the conflict and had paid for the trip out of his own pocket.
Conservative Senedd Member Gareth Davies had called the visit “reckless” and “dangerous” as Russian forces muster on the country’s border.
Welsh Government Counsel General Mick Antoniw, whose family is from the country, is also part of the Welsh delegation and also travelling in a personal capacity.
But the Foreign Office has advised against all travel to Ukraine and told all British nationals to leave.
MS Gareth Davies said: “This is reckless for a Welsh Gov Minister and the Leader of a Party to not heed strong gov advice and just wade into Ukraine regardless. I hope you get back to Wales safely, but please justify this on return and explain who paid for this dangerous trip.”
But Adam Price later responded to criticism of the trip, saying that he had travelled to Ukraine to show that Wales can reach out in meaningful wzys.
“I see my visit here has caused quite a controversy,” he said. “To clarify, I am here in a personal capacity, paid from my own pocket. I felt I had a choice – to either comment from afar behind a phone or laptop, or come here to connect and understand on a human, meaningful level.
“I am obviously not here to solve the conflict, but I am here to show solidarity in a time where real, meaningful connection with real people means far more than a tweet, a press release or just another soundbite from a politician at home in their comfort zone.
“It’s not going to be a good time to travel here for a long time and Senedd recess provided a window. If we want to see Wales truly connect with the world, then we must reach out in meaningful ways, even if that may feel uncomfortable at times. Mewn Undod Mae Nerth.”
Adam Price and Mick Antoniw travelled as part of a delegation including trade union leaders, academics and journalists, who said they wanted to express direct, cross-border solidarity from the UK working class to the Ukrainian working class.
The delegation also includes ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan, NUM general secretary Chris Kitchen, former Labour MEP Julie Ward, journalist Paul Mason, and Greenwich University economist Yuliya Yurchenko.
“With the threat of war rising, there is a concerted campaign of disinformation against Ukraine in the West, some of it aimed at influencing the progressive movements who have traditionally, and correctly, opposed Western military adventures in the Middle East,” a spokesperson for the delegation said.
“To separate truth from propaganda, the delegation will hear evidence from workers from the Donbas in the East of Ukraine, independent trade unions and progressive civil society groups in Kyiv, as well as MPs, academics and territorial defence units training to resist aggression.”
Mick Antoniw said: “In too many of the discussions about the situation in Ukraine it is the people themselves who are being bypassed. We want to listen to what the Ukrainian people say and to show our solidarity with them. We stand by them and their right to determine their own future and to defend their country from Russian aggression and imperialism.
Adam Price said: “The more the Ukrainian people are threatened by Russian aggression and imperialism the more urgent it becomes for socialists, democrats and internationalists to stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with them – in defence of their right to national self-determination and in defiance of Putin’s warmongering.”
The delegation said that the visit was significant because all the participants are activists in the anti-war left in the UK and, in the case of Mr Antoniw and Mr Mason, participated actively in the Labour left under Jeremy Corbyn.
The group intends to report back to grassroots organisations in Britain, “countering the disinformation campaign being waged by the Kremlin”.
“The presence of two leading Welsh lawmakers reflects the historic ties between Wales and Ukraine, going back to the foundation of Donetsk by Welsh migrants in the 19th century, and the presence of a Ukrainian diaspora in today’s former mining communities,” they said.
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