Since my column last month, international events have sadly taken centre stage.
I welcome and fully support the united efforts of the United Kingdom, United States and the European Union in putting forward the most severe sanctions Russia has ever experienced in response to this unprovoked, reprehensible and inexcusable attack.
Banks, oligarchs, companies and media outlets are being sanctioned, and airspace across Europe is closed to Russian aircraft
Meanwhile, Ukraine is being provided with military and other equipment by the democracies of the West to defend against President Putin’s personal war of terror.
And I am glad that the approach taken by the Prime Minister and the UK Government has cross-party support.
My thoughts are with the Ukrainian people of course – but we must also spare some thought for the Russian people themselves who are seeing their own people going to a war carried out not in their name, but to satisfy the personal agenda of President Putin.
Yet, they too will be hurt by the sanctions, bank runs, shortages and worst of all – the scores of body bags filled with relatives sent off to fight Putin’s war.
For anyone in Banff and Buchan who is affected by the crisis, with relatives in Ukraine, they can contact the Home Office dedicated family migration hotline on 0300 303 2785.
There is also support and advice from the Government, available to those with business connections in Ukraine and Russia and who have been affected – by calling 0300 303 8955.
I also welcome recent announcements by the Home Secretary that additional visa routes have been made available for a wider range of extended family members as well as the Humanitarian Community Sponsorship Scheme which will help those who have no family connection to the UK.
The recently announced 3% rise in council tax in Aberdeenshire will not be a welcome one for many as the Council has had their budgets squeezed yet again by the Scottish Government.
I’m glad however that SNP Ministers have passed on the £150 Council Tax rebate, made possible by recent new funding from the UK Treasury.
I was also relieved to hear Scottish Conservative Leader Douglas Ross confirm that no Conservative run council in Scotland will implement the SNP’s punitive car parking tax.
Across rural Banff and Buchan there is often no alternative to using a car.
I am not against initiatives to promote active travel or to facilitate less carbon intensive alternatives to car usage, but any such measure needs to be practical and realistic.
Yet again, it seems that the SNP and Greens are applying logic that may seem appropriate in the urban Central Belt but shows no cognisance of real life across rural Scotland.
Perhaps if the Scottish Government were to invest in improved transport infrastructure across the North East, such measures may start to look feasible.
But, as we have seen in their recently published ‘National Transport Strategy’, there is precious little in there for rural Scotland and certainly nothing in Banff and Buchan.