The historic UK-Ukraine Agreement on Security Cooperation formalises a range of support the UK has been and will continue to provide for Ukraine’s security, including intelligence sharing, cyber security, medical and military training, and defence industrial cooperation. Of the £2.5billion, £200million will support the largest delivery of drones to Ukraine from any nation. “It says a lot about the passion for Robert Burns that events are being hosted in so many countries, not least in war-torn Ukraine. The event also celebrates both countries strong Naval ties and the fact Scot Admiral Lord Cochrane, from Hamilton, Lanarkshire, took command of the Imperial Brazilian Navy on March 21, 1823. A British Embassy team in Estonia led by Defence Attache Craig Pilley participated in an annual curling match celebrating Burns on the frozen sea in Haapsalu on the Baltic country’s west coast. The Prime Minister also announced a further £10million in humanitarian aid for Ukraine to build on almost £357million already provided to support the work of organisations like the UN and Red Cross. Scottish demining charity The HALO Trust and Mercy Corps, which has its European headquarters in Edinburgh, have also been part of the UK Government’s humanitarian response. Top diplomat Martin Harris toasted Scotland’s National Bard yesterday at a poetry and music event at the British Embassy in Kyiv – despite the Kremlin having stepped up its drone and missile strikes on the Ukrainian capital. Foreign Secretary David Cameron said: “Burns Night is a great opportunity to celebrate the important efforts of the many Scots working across the UK Government’s global network, who are at the very forefront of delivering our foreign policy around the world. The UK’s Ambassador to Brazil, Stephanie Al-Qaq, has invited the Brazilian Piper Band – a group made up of underprivileged youths – to play at a Burns Supper for 200 guests in Brasilia. A proud Scot who is the UK’s Ambassador to Ukraine has hosted a celebration of Robert Burns, supporting local artists in defiance of Vladimir Putin’s barbaric war on the country. “The £2.5billion of military aid announced by the Prime Minister on his visit to Kyiv earlier this month shows that the UK is unfaltering in our determination to stand up to Vladimir Putin’s attack on freedom and democracy.”
- Martin Harris’ Burns Supper came just a fortnight after he accompanied Prime Minister Rishi Sunak during a visit to Kyiv to announce £2.5billion of military aid for Ukraine in 2024/25.
- The ambassador donned a kilt and a Ukrainian ‘vyshyvanka’ as guests celebrated Scottish culture and music with performances of Burns’ work, as well as readings of Ukrainian poetry. Since Russia’s war against Ukraine began, 95 Ukrainian writers, poets and cultural figures and have been killed and the event began with a minute’s silence to remember them.
- Ambassador Harris, 54, said: “Our Burns event is a gesture of solidarity with the brave Ukrainian people who, each day, show they will not be cowed by Russian aggression. Robert Burns has long been admired here, and this celebration is a small gesture to demonstrate that we are steadfast in our resolve, and a wonderful opportunity to share Scotland’s culture with our Ukrainian friends.”
- Diplomats around the world have marked Burns Night with events at Posts including Argentina, Australia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Denmark, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, Gambia, Germany, Greece, Holland, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malawi, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Spain, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Turkey and Turkmenistan are all hosting or attending Burns Suppers.