Just as news is coming in that the “Calais Visa Application Centre” announced to parliament yesterday will open in Lille:
MOD offers Op Pitting-style assistance to process Ukrainian refugees
Ministry of Defence (MOD) assistance has been offered to the Home Office as visa applications are processed for Ukrainians fleeing the war zone.
The Defence Secretary said help from the MOD has been offered, which he likened to the department’s role in the mission last year to evacuate Afghanistan, as part of Operation Pitting.
On Monday night, the Home Office said 300 visas had been issued from a total of 17,700 family scheme applications which have been started, 8,900 of which have been submitted.
Following reports hundreds of Ukrainians at Calais have been told they need to travel back to Paris or Brussels to apply for a visa, Ben Wallace told BBC Breakfast: “We need to upscale it, I know that the Home Secretary has already doubled, or trebled in some cases, more people in different processing centres.
“We can do more, we will do more.”
Mr Wallace added in an interview with Good Morning Britain that he will provide Home Secretary Priti Patel with “as many people as she likes” to assist with processing visas.
He said they would be MOD officials rather than personnel because Armed Forces cannot be deployed to France without permission from Paris.
Russia invaded Ukraine last month, with Mr Wallace this morning describing Vladimir Putin as a “spent force” in the world.
“No-one will be taking his phone calls in the long term,” the Defence Secretary told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“He has exhausted his army, he is responsible for thousands of Russian soldiers being killed, responsible for innocent people being killed, civilians being killed in Ukraine.”