Archbishop of York calls for Britain to accept refugees on 'day of prayer for Ukraine'

Credit: PA Images

The Archbishop of York has called for Britain to welcome Ukrainian refugees and provide humanitarian aid on a "day of prayer" for Ukraine.

Stephen Cotterell urged the government to impose the "stiffest possible sanctions" to isolate Russia and "offer safe routes for refugees and offer support for countries in the region who are helping thousands of people."

Government ministers say they’re sending humanitarian aid to Ukraine’s neighbours to help deal with the rising numbers of refugees, but for refugees to gain entry to the UK, certain criteria must be met as part of the immigration system here.

Speaking to ITV News, the Archbishop said it was hard to imagine how people are suffering in Ukraine, condemning the war instigated by President Putin as a "barbarous illegal act."

Police are requesting first-hand evidence of potential war crimes in Ukraine, where cities such as Kyiv have come under fire Credit: Maia Mikhaluk/PA

Since the invasion on Thursday, Anglican church leaders in the UK and in Ukraine and Russia invited churches to dedicate Sunday as a day of prayer for Ukraine.

A joint letter between The Archbishop of York and The Archbishop of Canterbury said: “The attack by one nation on a free, democratic country has rightly provoked outrage, sanctions, and condemnation.

“We lament with the people of Ukraine, and we pray for the innocent, the frightened and those who have lost loved ones, homes, and family.

An armed civil defence man holds a Kalashnikov assault rifle while patrolling an empty street due to curfew in Kyiv, Ukraine Credit: Efrem Lukatsky/AP

“We continue to call for a ceasefire and the withdrawal of Russian forces as well as wide-ranging efforts to ensure peace, stability and security.”

It comes as President Vladimir Putin has ordered Russian nuclear deterrent forces be put on high alert, as tensions with the West mount over his invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking at a meeting with his top officials, the Russian president claimed leading NATO powers had made “aggressive statements” as well as imposing hard-hitting financial sanctions against Russia and leading officials.

Putin ordered the Russian defense minister and the chief of the military’s General Staff to put the nuclear deterrent forces in a “special regime of combat duty.”