UK government “ham fisted” over Russian Arctic medal

Angus MP Mike Weir has called for a “common sense” approach from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office after it said 400 Arctic Convoy veterans will not be allowed to collect bravery medals offered by the Russian government.

After a long campaign the Westminster government announced last month it would at last honour its pre-election commitment to award medals to those who served on Arctic Convoys, a move that was welcomed by Mr Weir.

Now Moscow wants to honour the World War Two veterans who supported the Russian effort – but the FCO has said it is not possible for the sailors to accept the Ushakov medal as they are already being granted an award from Westminster.

Commenting on the move Mr Weir said: “After having belatedly announced plans to award a medal for service on the Arctic convoy, this latest intervention from the UK government is ham fisted, undermining the good will created by last month’s announcement. You have to wonder if the right hand knows what the left hand is doing.

“This group of men made an immeasurable contribution to the Allied forces’ efforts during World War Two. They faced the enemy in some of the toughest conditions anywhere on the planet and their bravery meant vital supply routes were never cut off.

“It was long-overdue for the Westminster government to commit to awarding our heroes a medal in recognition but it is ridiculous it is now saying they cannot receive the Ushakov medal because they will be getting a UK equivalent.”