Left to Right: Dr Ralph Gonsalves & Russian president, Vladimir Putin
Front Page
March 1, 2022
Gonsalves wants to see peace in Russia/Ukraine conflict

St Vincent and the Grenadines, like many other countries around the world, is hoping for a peaceful resolution to the conflict between the Russian Federation and Ukraine. 

Prime Minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves said this was his desire as he spoke on StarRadio yesterday about the matter when he said, “you know what we want to see? We want to see peace”.

Gonsalves’ statement follows his disclosure last week that he had written a letter to Russian president, Vladimir Putin about Russia’s “special military operation in the Ukraine”, but that he would not make its contents public as yet. 

He received some public backlash over his private letter, with some persons making varying assumptions about the contents of the written communication. 

“Is not every time I write a leader a letter, I make its contents public. That’s not either necessary or desirable,” Gonsalves said in response on local airwaves yesterday. “In this situation, I wanted the Russian president to understand how the leader of a small island developing state sees this “special military operation” — that’s what they call it.” 

He continued: “But they think I would write Putin a letter and don’t specify in it the sacrosanct nature of the principles of the United Nations Charter which are being broken here?” 

Russia launched a full scale invasion of Ukraine last Thursday and the battle between both states have reportedly resulted in hundreds of deaths, thousands being injured and resulted in more than half a million refugees, according to international news reports. The invasion has left the world’s population pondering whether this would incite a greater war between states. 

Gonsalves had no qualms in admitting that this country was a friend to Russia, in the same way it is a friend to Ukraine. 

He said it is this principle that contributed to SVG becoming the smallest state to recently occupy a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. 

“Our tagline for our Security Council run was “Friends of all: we strive for a better world” and that’s why we are able to speak frankly to a number of leaders in other countries about our position and we explain what we do,” he said. 

Russia, as one of five permanent members of the Security Council, vetoed a resolution at the Council on Friday, February 25 that would have called for an immediate halt to its attack on Ukraine and a withdrawal of all troops. 

This led to the convening of a special emergency session of the UN General Assembly yesterday, where representatives from a majority of member states, condemned the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation.

The meeting was adjourned yesterday evening and is expected to continue today, after which member countries are expected to vote on a resolution. 

It is likely that SVG’s ambassador will make a presentation at today’s session.

“I don’t want to pre-empt our ambassador but she will make a statement and when we vote and you will see how we vote. That is the first occasion that a vote arises and we have a vote to cast,” Gonsalves said.

He pointed out that the address to be made by this country’s representative at the UN General Assembly is reflective of the letter he wrote to president Putin and focuses on the principles of the UN Charter but also issues that are germane and central to Small Island Developing States. 

These include the peaceful settlement of disputes, multilateralism, sovereignty and independence. 

He added that the Caribbean Community’s (CARICOM) statement on the matter is also representative of SVG’s position. 

CARICOM issued a statement on the matter on February 24, strongly condemning the military attacks and invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation. 

The Community called for “the immediate and complete withdrawal of the military presence and cessation of any further actions that may intensify the current perilous situation in that country”.  

“The recognition by The Russian Federation of the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk represents a violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.The hostilities against Ukraine go counter to the principles of respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity, non-interference in the internal affairs of another sovereign state and the prohibition on the threat or use of force, and the peaceful resolution of disputes, which are the bedrock of this Community,” the CARICOM statement said.

And it called on all involved parties to urgently embark on diplomatic dialogue to de-escalate hostilities and work towards a sustainable peace.