Diana Butler was roundly condemned after claiming the Ukrainian government had provoked Vladimir Putin’s invasion
A Dorset councillor has been condemned by colleagues after claiming the Russian attack on Ukraine might have been provoked by the actions of the Ukrainian Government.
Creekmoor councillor Diana Butler’s comments were roundly criticised at a meeting of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council on Tuesday evening, with fellow Creekmoor councillor Judy Butt quick to disassociate herself and ‘the good people of Creekmoor’ from the remarks.
Uk Independence Party councillor Diana Butler said she was unsure about the phrase “unprovoked attack” being used in a motion of support for Ukraine from Christchurch councillor Lesley Dedman.
She told stunned councillors the decision by Ukraine not to recognise Russian as an official language in two areas to the east of the country had provoked Russia – with at least 40 per cent in the area having Russian as their main language.
“Unprovoked aggression is not right. Russia was provoked” she said, going on to explain how in 2014 the law which protected Russian as an official state language was revoked.
Cllr Bob Lawton said he found it ‘incomprehensible’ that a councillor had made the remarks: “I cannot believe the inhumanity which is being suffered by the Ukraine people under the aggression of Russian imperialists.
“It is just unbelievable what they are trying to do to. They are treating women, children, the elderly as if they were inhuman…I find it incomprehensible that a councillor in this room tries to justify what is happening.”
Cllr Butt said the comments from her fellow ward councillor were ill-advised.
“Sometimes we have thoughts and opinions which are best kept to ourselves – and you should have done that,” she said glancing across the chamber to Cllr Butler.
During the debate there was criticism of the council for taking down the Ukraine flag from the Bournemouth council headquarters and replacing it, for the meeting night, with the BCP flag. Councillors were told that it would be flying again on Wednesday and would continue to fly until there was a resolution to the war.
Cabinet portfolio holder Cllr Karen Rampton said there were now 125 adults and 55 children in the area under the Homes for Ukraine scheme and 1,444 households in the area had now offered to host refugees.
She said the council and its partners are holding weekly meetings to plan help for arrivals – with problems remaining over finding suitable school places for some of the refugee children, especially in areas where schools already have a waiting list.
Education brief holder Nichola Greene said the council was working, with the schools, on solutions but said that it also had to be fair to local families who were wanting places.