Barking and Dagenham Council's deputy leader Saima Ashraf sent a message of "hope and solidarity" to the people of Ukraine.

Cllr Ashraf used part of her statement to an Assembly meeting on Wednesday (March 2) to address Russia's invasion.

She ended her speech with the words "liberté, egalité and fraternité" - meaning liberty, equality and fraternity - which is the national motto of France.

Cllr Ashraf told the meeting: "We are privileged to be able to gather in peace.

“We treasure our freedom. But we must never forget it was hard won.

“We are reminded of this every year when we gather around the statue of Job Drain (outside the Broadway Theatre in Barking) and our memorials – and remember the sacrifice of others.

“That is why we think of the people of Ukraine – and others around the world – whose freedoms are threatened."

Russian forces have shelled a number of Ukranian cities and the United Nations reported yesterday (March 3) that one million Ukrainians had now fled the country.

Cllr Ashraf said Ukrainians "have an identity and culture of their own".

She added: “It is this identity and culture that Vladimir Putin wishes to destroy with his imperial ambitions. But he will not succeed.

“You can kill, and you can destroy buildings, but the people of Ukraine will live on – as they always have.

“And so, as bombs drop in Kyiv and other cities, we send a message of hope and solidarity to the people of Ukraine."

The government has announced sanctions against some Russian oligarchs.

But Barking MP Dame Margaret Hodge told the House of Commons on March 1 she wants to see unexplained wealth orders used against individuals.

These orders allow law enforcement to confiscate criminal assets without having to prove they came from criminal activity.

She said: "Take the assets away and leave it up to the individuals to demonstrate to us that those are legitimate assets with no connection to Putin."

Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas said it was “vital” that NATO allies “work in a coordinated and unified way to deliver the severest possible consequences for the Putin regime”.