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“Putin must pay”: The British politician-turned-Philanthropist building a humanitarian empire in Ukraine

In the same week that European leaders began discussions for a “Marshall Plan” for Ukraine, former Minister Brooks Newmark spoke in favour of a Multilateral Action Model on reparations which could secure over £500bn in compensation to help rebuild the nation of Ukraine.

Newmark was one of the numerous experts consulted by the New Lines Institute to develop the legal framework by which Russian assets can be seized, oil revenues charged and dirty money confiscated to build a Ukraine Compensation Fund, following the precedent of the UN Compensation Commission after the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

Newmark is best known for his involvement in Ukraine as a philanthropist who, through his organisation Angels for Ukraine, has rescued over 20,000 Ukrainians, including hundreds of orphans and amputees. “What started out with one bus”, Newmark said at the launch in Parliament, “soon became twenty buses, three ambulances and a handful of vans”.

Brooks became involved after seeing an Instagram post from an old Latvian friend, Raitis Bullits, who was shuttling refugees fleeing across the Polish-Ukrainian border in his bus. After Raitis returned home, Newmark continued expanding, and pushed the operation into Ukraine itself, starting in Lviv and then Kyiv, then pushing east and south to Vinnytsia and Zaporizhia, then Dnipro and Kharkiv, areas completely devastated by the bombing. Newmark was reaching ever further into the war-torn country, rescuing survivors as Putin’s regime increasingly targeted civilian areas for indiscriminate artillery fire.

This approach of going directly to the most dangerous areas brought safety to those in the most life-threatening situations, but also brought Newmark and his team close to the most brutal scenes of the war. “Most shocking of all was seeing a mass war grave in Bucha and knowing that there were 458 bodies buried there.”



The movement of his operation east also brought Brooks, in true Dunkirk spirit, to real physical danger. In July, Newmark received a plea from the local government to evacuate 1,000 women and children from behind Russian lines beyond the city of Kharkiv. Their vehicles had to escape Russian mortar fire en route to the location, where they organised a path through more than 500 landmines, along which they led the thousand to safety.

It is perhaps for this feat that Moshe Azman, the Chief Rabbi of Kiev, has called Brooks “the Oskar Schindler of Ukraine”.

Although he is too modest to accept such an epithet, it must nonetheless strike close to home. He has spoken before of the effects of his own family’s suffering and loss during the Holocaust, something which has instilled in him an impulsion to “stand up and be counted” when confronted with humanitarian crises. “When I see a crisis, I still can’t help myself getting involved.”

Although Newmark describes his early involvement as an “impulse”, his parliamentary history suggests otherwise. A long-time parliamentary ‘Friend of Ukraine’, Newmark had been introduced early on to Bill Browder, the financier and activist responsible for the US Magnitsky Act of 2012, which punishes Russian human rights violators, and the movement which led to sanctions being imposed on 30 Russians believed complicit in the corruption which led to the death of Sergei Magnitsky. In pushing for a similar law on British statute books, Newmark found himself honoured with a travel ban from Russia, Syria, and Iran.

Reparations for Ukraine, however, would be on a completely different scale to that of the Magnitsky Act. “We have a lot of tools”, Brooks said. “One is seizing assets. Another is talking about the breach of the genocide convention. It is a genocide by any definition of the word.” A third would be the pursuit of assets held by the many Kleptocrats linked closely to the Putin regime.

In the roundtable discussion with MPs Anne-Marie Travelyan, Sir John Whittingdale and Natalie Elphicke, Baroness Hodgson and others, Newmark attracted praise for his approach to Ukraine’s reconstruction. “Ukraine will need $1tn. Whether it’s from the IMF, ECB, or the Fed, they need some form of bridge finance so that the rebuilding can begin. But it must not be Western-driven. They must self-determine. We must enable them – how do they want to modernise?”.

Taking lessons from his experience in Rwanda, where he built an education charity, a teacher training centre and a school for 300 children, Newmark points out that they “didn’t just decide to fix what was already there” following the Rwandan Civil War and the Rwandan Genocide. “They rebuilt an entire nation, with energy efficient and quality investments”. So must Ukraine, Brooks argued, whether it be on industrial strategy, e-governance or Agri-business, but it must be up to Ukraine to self-determine their recovery plan.

In the full context of Newmark’s philanthropy in Ukraine, his closing remarks in Parliament should surprise no-one. “We must call Russia a terrorist state”, he concluded, “and Putin must pay”.


It will take Ukrainians years to recover from the mental scars of the war.

Newmark personally attested in the European Parliament in Brussels last month to the importance of supporting the mental health of children and refugees as they flee such shocking conditions. Alysha Tagert, Trauma Expert, joined him along with Olha Stefanyshyna, Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, and together they highlighted the psychological and social damage that kamikaze drones, death, and destruction of homes have on the population which survives. “No matter how strong you are”, Stefanyshyna spoke, “there is no way to tolerate it.”

In Westminster, Stefanyshyna told of how Ukrainians receive phone notifications alerting them to impending drone strikes. Each one of those notifications, she reflected to the roundtable, marked another innocent life or piece of critical infrastructure destroyed.

As well as the 38,000 pieces of infrastructure including schools, bridges and hospitals, researchers estimate that as many as 20 million Ukrainians will have suffered from trauma, PTSD, depression, anxiety, or other psychosocial disorders due to the war and the displacement it has caused. Newmark highlights how the reconstruction efforts must focus on rebuilding the population, not just the bricks and mortar, including everyone from children to veterans.

Tagert, who built the clinical and social services program for survivors of torture and trauma at TASSC International, outlined to Newmark and the other experts how the funding from Russian reparations can be organised to deliver emergency mental care. Although children and young people can be incredibly resilient to such trauma, if left without support the Ukrainian population runs the risk of rampant depression, addiction and productivity issues in the future as invisible scars of the war. “Entire survivor-focused organizations” must be drawn up, with clinical intervention roadmaps designed to ensure responsible and targeted counselling. In a nation where mental health remains deeply stigmatised, this process must begin by helping survivors “name and tame” psychosocial illness.



However, there remain immediate options that organisations like Angels for Ukraine can implement to ameliorate the incoming Ukrainian mental health crisis. “Having fun and playing with one another have been seen to be highly effective in treating trauma for both children and adults.  Ukrainians need to consider creating spaces to do this while the rebuilding happens”.

Tagert also highlighted how charities can provide funding for inexpensive but highly effective “coping toolboxes”, which are “actual containers filled with items that can help them soothe themselves in a time of panic or anxiety by engaging the senses”. Collecting personal and simple everyday items, such as chewing gum, a stress ball, or a fidget spinner that can bring a person to the present moment through touching, tasting, seeing, and bring them more mindfulness, can be a powerful tool for managing mental conditions.

Newmark himself has spoken with painful honesty in the past about how mental health affected him since his early life. As the Telegraph reports, it took Brooks until only the last few years to forgive his mother for the trauma he suffered early on. Perhaps he sees in Ukraine an opportunity to relieve young Ukrainians of the need for such prolonged suffering.

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By: neweuro
Title: “Putin must pay”: The British politician-turned-Philanthropist building a humanitarian empire in Ukraine
Sourced From: www.neweurope.eu/article/putin-must-pay-the-british-politician-turned-philanthropist-building-a-humanitarian-empire-in-ukraine/
Published Date: Sat, 12 Nov 2022 17:20:04 +0000

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