A Scottish diplomat has opened up about swapping the paradise isle of Mauritius for "frightening" nightly air raids in Ukraine's capital. 

Glasgow-born Keith Allan left his role as the UK’s High Commissioner to Mauritius and joined the British Embassy in Kyiv as Vladimir Putin prepared to invade the country at the start of 2022.

The Scot issued a message of hope that the country can "rebuild as a modern, stable and resilient democracy" as more than 1000 foreign dignitaries visited London on Wednesday for the Ukraine Recovery Conference.

He has faced drone attacks and air raids but emphasises that the "real heroes" were the Ukrainians who face the threat of war each day and every day. 

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak opened the conference alongside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who joined virtually. 

The two-day summit, which is also being attended by NGO representatives and hundreds of business leaders and entrepreneurs, is focused on supporting the economy of the war-afflicted country. 

The UK Government has pledged £6.5billion of military, humanitarian and economic support since last February.

It has also committed £2.3 billion in military support to Ukraine in 2022 - more than any country other than the United States.

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The Herald:

Mr Allan said: “Friends that were always winding me up about my ‘cushy’ job in Mauritius aren’t giving me any stick now. I think the gravity of the situation in Ukraine is abundantly clear to everyone.

“You couldn’t get a more dramatic contrast than working in Kyiv when Ukraine is under attack.

“One of the scariest moments was in October or November when we first saw these shiny new Iranian drones coming in.

“We hadn’t seen anything like that before and it was very scary when you could see and hear these things flying overhead.

“It reminded me of what it must have been like living in London the first time the Germans sent in V2 rockets."

However, the Scot commended the resilience of Ukrainians as he encouraged international partners to help the country recover from the conflict. 

The Ukraine Recovery Conference is the largest international summit that will be hosted by the UK this year. 

Mr Allan said: “The Ukraine Recovery Conference is part of the UK Government’s ongoing support for Ukraine and is about unlocking the potential of the private sector to help the country rebuild as a modern, stable and resilient democracy.

“The Ukrainian people have shown they can win the war against Russia – and the UK and international partners can support them further by helping drive its economic growth.

“Ukraine’s potential as a modern, innovative, green economy is huge. Integrating Ukraine more tightly into the global economy, will ensure the country is more resilient as it bounces back from  Putin’s aggression.

“This conference is a tremendous opportunity to super-charge Ukraine’s productivity, stimulate foreign investment, strengthen skills and knowledge and make it stronger than ever.”

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has now hit more than 1,500 Russian oligarchs and entities with tough sanctions since President Putin’s invasion - freezing over £18 billion of assets in the UK.

The dad-of-three was working at the British Embassy when it was temporarily evacuated as Putin’s tanks rolled into the country last February.

He has recently visited Ukraine for the 14th time while supporting UK Ambassador Melinda Simmons and her team in Kyiv.

He said: “My last trip out to Kyiv there were sustained attacks every night with air raids, which is frightening and tiring for everyone concerned.

"Usually, it’s at night so I’m in my apartment and have to find a spot under a stairwell until it passes after an hour or two.

“Luckily, I’ve not had any missiles or drones land near me, but when you are travelling in and out, you see the damage and devastation caused by Russia’s barbaric military bombardment. It’s so shocking to see destroyed apartment blocks or shopping malls and listen to the heart-breaking stories of residents suffering the human cost of this illegal war on Ukraine.

“As a dad-of-three, it’s really difficult to hear of children disappearing and other atrocities being carried out on innocent civilians.

“I’ve been proud to do my bit, but the real heroes are the Ukrainian people and our Ambassador Melinda Simmons and my colleagues who are permanently based there. I only visit Kyiv sporadically whereas they have to face the threat of Putin’s barbaric war 24/7. It’s been tough.”