UK minister visits Minnesota, touts U.S. and UK support for Ukraine

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A key foreign minister from the United Kingdom (UK) is touring several Midwestern states talking to government officials, business leaders and Ukrainian groups about American and European sanctions against Russia.

During a speech and question-and-answer period at luncheon meeting of the Economic Club of Minnesota in Golden Valley, he says Russian President Vladimir Putin should not underestimate the resolve of the Ukrainian people or their allies around the world.

“We’ve got to be in this for the long haul,” James Cleverly told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS in an interview before the luncheon. Cleverly is the UK Minister of State for Europe and North America.  “The Ukrainian people are defending their homeland with amazing passion and tenacity and they’ve been really very successful. And we have to support them because they’re not just defending their homeland. They’re defending democracy. They’re defending the rule of law. They’re defending respect for territorial integrity and these are things both the US and UK hold very dear.”

Cleverly says he’s aware the cost will be high in terms of human life and economically. “It comes at the cost of lives to the Ukrainian people and it is hitting us economically both here in the U.S. and back home in the UK,” he says. “That economic pain sadly was inevitable the minute Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine. Gas prices were always going to go up. Food prices were always going to go up and the best thing we can do is bring this war to a conclusion soon and one of the most effective ways of doing that is squeezing Putin financially so he’s limited in his funding to the war machine.  Defending democracy costs and we all have to pay the price in some way.”

Cleverly also said more than 200,000 people across the UK volunteered to take in Ukrainian refugees. So many volunteered, they quickly crashed a government website.

While in Minnesota, Cleverly also met with Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan and visited 3M headquarters in Maplewood to commemorate the company’s 70th anniversary of doing business in the UK.