NICOLA Sturgeon has accused Tory ministers of “passing the buck” over their duty to help Ukrainian refugees escape the Russian invasion.

The First Minister is demanding that the UK Government waive all visa requirements for any Ukrainian nationals seeking refuge in the UK – and says their excuses for not doing so are nonsensical. 

On Tuesday, Boris Johnson announced that his administration would allow Ukrainians living in the UK to bring in "adult parents, grandparents, children over 18 and siblings" in addition to immediate family members, with around 200,000 people thought to be eligible for the scheme.

Earlier on Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab dismissed suggestions his government’s approach was callous, claiming Ukrainians would prefer to flee to countries nearer to their homeland.

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Sturgeon, speaking during a visit to an NHS distribution centre which is sending aid to Ukraine, said Downing Street’s “limited approach” is shameful. 

She told Bauer Media: “I heard somebody from the UK Government say yesterday that the reason for such a limited approach is that they think people fleeing Ukraine prefer to stay closer to home.

“That sounds to me like just passing the buck to other countries. It also seems a bit counter-intuitive. If they think people wouldn’t want to come to the UK – which I don’t agree with – then it would seem to me that there is less reason to have a limited approach to welcoming people here.

“This is something that is of a magnitude that we’re only going to begin to grasp in the days and weeks to come. And every country has a moral obligation here to play its full part but there’s also a practical need because no one country, no number of small countries alone is going to be able to deal with this. It will take all countries to come together and be part of a collective response.”

Speaking to PA, Sturgeon added: “Follow the example of the European Union who’s opened its doors and said people from Ukraine will get entry and the right to stay for three years, follow the example of Ireland as they drop visa requirements, open the doors of the UK to people fleeing this horror in Ukraine and sort the paperwork later.

“That’s the humanitarian thing to do, it’s what we need to do to give life to the words of support that everybody is articulating right now. But it’s also the practical and necessary thing to do."

Raab was asked on Sky News on Tuesday why his government was taking a more hardline approach than the EU.

He replied: “In relation to the Europeans, of course they’re closer to Ukraine and as the Ukrainian ambassador to the UK said over the weekend it will often be the case that … most Ukrainians will want to stay in Ukraine, but if they leave they’ll want to be as close to their home country as possible in order to be able to come back in the future.”

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At the NHS Scotland distribution centre in North Lanarkshire, the FM commented on the aid being flown to Ukraine.

She explained: “This is part of Scotland’s response, it is one way – relatively small in the context of the overall magnitude of this – that Scotland can help people in Ukraine right now who are fighting so bravely for the freedom and independence of their own country, but actually fighting a battle for democracy and freedom on behalf of all of us.

“We’ve all got a duty to do everything we can to support them and make sure they prevail.”

The SNP leader also revealed her Cabinet had discussions on Monday about co-ordinating donations, money and offers of help from people across Scotland and urged people to offer what they can to support Ukrainians affected by Vladimir Putin’s invasion.

She added: “From the president to men and women in the street, their courage and bravery is awe-inspiring.

“They are fighting a battle for freedom and the independence of their country, but they are fighting a battle right now on behalf of all of us.

“This is a moment in history where it’s democracy versus autocracy, its freedom versus oppression, it’s the Putin doctrine of ‘might is right ‘versus the rule of international law.

“They’re fighting that battle right now for all of us, for freedom, for democracy, for international law.

“It matters to all of us that they prevail and therefore we have got to not just send them our solidarity in words, we’ve got to do everything we practically can to help them in this battle.”