„Poland was right about the Russian threat” – NATO’s General James Everard at the conference „Poland’s support for Ukraine”

Organised on 27 November 2023, the conference 'Poland’s support for Ukraine’, dedicated to the extraordinary scale of Poland’s assistance to Ukraine, gathered a large number of guests in the prestigious One Whitehall hall in the British capital. Politicians, representatives of the diplomatic corps of the UK, Ukraine, France, Italy and other countries, members of the UK Parliament and House of Lords, representatives of business and Polish organisations in the UK involved in supporting Ukraine and actively cooperating with Poland for this assistance took part.

The conference was organised by the British Poles and the Transatlantic Alliance Foundation.

Yuriy Lysenko, Representative of the Ukrainian Ombudsman. Photo: Piotr Apolinarski

Poland is the leading country in the world that has demonstrated on such an unimaginable scale its commitment to helping Ukraine. Poland has welcomed more than 3 million Ukrainian refugees. Poland has provided 3.5 billion euros to help Ukraine. And Poland has helped move defensive weapons and equipment into the country facilitating the remarkable defence by Ukraine” – Yuriy Lysenko, representative of the Ukrainian Ombudsman, Director of Conservative Friends of Ukraine, stated during the conference.

From left: Sylwia Kosiec, POSK, Dr. Marek Laskiewicz, President of POSK, Piotr Michalik, Ognisko Polskie – Polish Hearth, Alicja Donimirska, Chair of the Federation of Poles in GB, Maria Byczynski, British Poles, Janusz Sikora-Sikorski, President of the Polish Relief Society, Ela Barrass, Chair of the Polish Educational Society, Iwona Golińska, Polish Sue. Photo: British Poles

An exhibition on the scale of Polish support for Ukraine since the beginning of the invasion accompanied the event.

Rev. Marek Gałuszka from the Christ the King Polish Church (Kościół Chrystusa Króla) on Balham. Photo: British Poles

The following speakers took part in the conference:

  • Francis Dearnley, Daily Telegraph,
  • Yuriy Lysenko, Representative of the Ukrainian Ombudsman, Director of Conservative Friends of Ukraine,
  • Daniel Kawczynski, MP
  • George Byczynski, UK Friends of Ukraine and Adviser to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Poland,
  • Paweł Pawlowski, Board Member of the Transatlantic Alliance Foundation
  • Kacper Kita, Expert at the Transatlantic Alliance Foundation
  • General James Everard, NATO’s Former Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe.
Francis Dearnley, Daily Telegraph. Photo: Piotr Apolinarski

During the event, it was recalled that the foreign ministers of the UK, Poland and Ukraine signed a trilateral partnership on 17 February 2022, just before the Russian invasion. Strategic consultations between the three powers rightly anticipated the Russian threat.

From left: lady Olga Maitland from Defence and Security Foundation, lord Hamilton of Epsom, Minister of State for the Armed Forces under John Major and lady Munster. Photo: Piotr Apolinarski

Speakers emphasised that the UK and Poland were the first major European powers to provide immediate assistance to Ukraine. The meeting at One Whitehall was organised to recall the scale of support for Ukraine and explain why countering the Russian threat is crucial to Europe’s security.

Invited guests. Photo: British Poles

Yuriy Lysenko, further stated: „Remember the battle raging in Ukraine is not just for one nation but for the principles of democracy, self-determination, and the very fabric of international peace and security (…) It’s only through collective action and steadfast determination that we can ensure a brighter, more secure future for Ukraine and the entire European community (…) And I know that that our Polish brothers and sisters will always be there, because in this current geopolitical landscape, it is imperative to acknowledge Poland’s pivotal role. Thank you, Poland!”

From left: Dr. Marek Laskiewicz, President of POSK, Daniel Kawczynski, Member of the House of Commons, Prof. Tomasz Kazmierski, Rector of PUNO (Polish University Abroad). Photo: British Poles

Michal Sprengel, Defence Attaché at the Polish Embassy, honoured the conference with his presence. Polish President Andrzej Duda appointed him to the rank of Brigadier General of the Polish Army earlier this month.

Polish Embassy’s Defence Attaché General Michał Sprengel. Photo: British Poles

General Sprengel received numerous congratulations during the event. He told the British Poles: „Today’s conference allowed us to remind representatives of the British establishment of the immense support that the Polish government and Polish citizens have given and continue to give to Ukraine and the Ukrainians. We helped from the very beginning, from the first day of the conflict. It is important that this awareness is present in British society at all times, as the war is still ongoing just across our border and people are dying. Meetings like this are a way of strengthening and highlighting the importance of our Poland-UK-Ukraine relationship.”

Daniel Kawczynski, Member of the House of Commons. Photo: British Poles

The following speaker was Daniel Kawczynski MP, who said during his intervention: „I am the only Polish-born British member of Parliament. I didn’t leave Poland. I was taken out of Poland by my parents. I am very priviliged to have represented Shrewsbury and Atcham for the last 18 years, but Poland is very close my heart (…) I would like you to know that the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Poland is making us either the third or fourth largest in the Parliament today, with as many as 97 MPs. Those of you who are parliamentarians here today and haven’t yet joined the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Poland, please do so! After what we have listened to here, you can see that there is no country in Europe whose determination to help Ukraine is greater than in Poland.”

Kacper Kita, an expert at the Transatlantic Alliance Foundation. Photo: British Poles

The audience was hugely impressed by the statement of General James Everardformer NATO’s Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe, who bluntly admitted that Poland was right because it had „repeatedly warned the West of the threat from Russia”.

General James Everard, former NATO’s Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe. Photo: Piotr Apolinarski

A special ceremony followed the speechesGeorge Byczynski, who chaired the meeting, and Yuriy Lysenko, representative of the Ukrainian Ombudsman, presented Alicja Donimirska, Chair of the Federation of Poles in Great Britain, with a diploma for her actions to support Ukraine in the face of the Russian invasion. The diploma was sent from Ukraine by the YAV Foundation of YavorivAlicja received the diploma in person and, without hiding her emotion, thanked her for this award, pledging to continue her activities.

George Byczynski of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Poland and Yuriy Lysenko, representative of the Ukrainian Ombudsman, presented a diploma to Alicja Donimirska, Chair of the Federation of Poles in Great Britain. Photo: British Poles

This event was an important opportunity to foster and build new relations between the UK, Poland and Ukraine.

From left: Chris Vickers of the 7th Regiment Royal Logistics Corps in conversation with General Sir James Everard, former NATO’s Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe. Photo: Piotr Apolinarski

During the event, an exhibition showing and recalling the scale of economic, military and political aid to Ukraine was presented. It reminded the audience that Poland allocated almost 2% of its GDP to support the Ukrainians. It also referred to difficult topics, for example, one of the boards entitled „Support despite a difficult past” recalled the Volhynia Massacre.

From left: Gen. Michal Sprengel, Polish Defence Attaché, George Byczynski, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Poland and Paweł Pawłowski, Board Member of the Transatlantic Alliance Foundation. Photo: Piotr Apolinarski

A reception where around 150 guests continued political discussions in a friendly atmosphere followed the speeches.

From left: Ukrainian Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski of the Catholic Diocese of Great Britain (formerly Bishop of New Westminster, Canada) in conversation with Janusz Sikora-Sikorski of the Polish Relief Society. Photo: Piotr Apolinarski

The project was funded by the Chancellery of the Prime Minister within the framework of the Polonia and Poles Abroad 2023 grant. Special thanks to Sterling Law and the Ombudsman of Ukraine for their support of the conference.

Maria Byczynski

Photos: British Poles, Piotr Apolinarski

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