Prime Minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves has made public the contents of a letter he wrote to Russian President, Vladimir Putin amidst that country’s invasion of neighbouring country, Ukraine.
Gonsalves initially said on radio last Friday, February 25 that he had written a letter to Putin about the country’s “special military operation in Ukraine” but that he would not make its contents public as yet.
There was some speculation on the contents of the letter and on Monday, Opposition Leader, Dr Godwin Friday questioned why St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) had not joined with the rest of the world to condemn Russia’s actions publicly.
“…Gonsalves has written a private letter to Putin. What happen, they are penpals?” Friday queried, as he called on Gonsalves to disclose his private letter to Putin on this public matter.
The prime minister’s decision to withhold the contents of the written communication was apparently partially fuelled by his belief that not all diplomatic matters must be conducted publicly.
However, disclosure of the letter came on Wednesday during NBC’s Face to Face morning programme, one day after St Vincent and the Grenadines’ permanent representative to the United Nations, Rhonda King delivered a statement on the matter at the UN General Assembly 11th special emergency session.
“As a longstanding friend of the Russian Federation, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is deeply disturbed at your government’s initiative of a “special military operation” in the territory of Ukraine, an independent republic,” Gonsalves’ letter reads.
It continues: “The Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines understands your articulation of the legitimate security considerations of the Russian Federation, and your perspectives on the political situation in the region of Donbas, inclusive of the declaration of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic”.
“However, your government’s stance on the matters-at-hand, taken at its highest in your favour, cannot reasonably justify the ‘special military operation’ upon which Russia has embarked. Self-evidently, the metaphoric horse-and-chariot have been driven through the Charter of the United Nations”.
The prime minister stated that historically, the Russian Federation has been a staunch defender of the Charter of the United Nations and its principles of multilateralism, peaceful settlement of disputes, sovereignty and independence, non intervention and interference in another country’s internal affairs.
He further remarked that his country is a fellow defender of these principles, particularly as a small island state whose independent existence depends on faithful global adherence to the letter and spirit of the United Nations Charter and he urged the Russian government to reflect “with solemnity, and reasonableness, on these principles, and others, and cease the ‘special military operation’.”
“I have been listening carefully to the views of the leaderships of countries globally. Overwhelmingly, world opinion is against your government’s ‘special military operation’. Indeed, among true friends of Russia in the Caribbean, Latin America, Africa, Asia, and even in Europe, there is a near-unanimous objection and opposition to your government’s military operation,” the letter read.
It also stated that “from our perspective the ‘special military operation’ is neither necessary nor desirable”, as it will “undoubtedly add much suffering to ordinary folks the world over, especially those who are still finding it very challenging to handle the pandemic, climate change, and natural disasters”.
Gonsalves further noted that SVG and the country will likely be adversely affected as well.
“Please, let us give peace and diplomacy a real chance to succeed. In our view, the nobility of peace is far preferable than an ignoble military venture. I am aware that some western countries are engaged in naked hypocrisy and double-speak; their history of neo-colonialism, imperialism and interventionist adventurism undermines their self-righteous proclamations. But their ongoing agendas and self-righteousness ought not to induce other dangerous errors, such as the ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine,” the Vincentian prime minister wrote.
He continued: “At a personal level, as a friend of the Russian Federation, I am urging you very strongly to cease ‘the special military operation’ in Ukraine. Peace is a great cause, and great causes have never been won by doubtful men and women. I have full confidence that you, a distinguished son of the magnificent Russian civilisation, will carefully weigh what I have written.
Let us go forth in peace, security, and prosperity for all. Please do not disappoint me. All the best to you, your family, your government and people. Please keep in touch”.
Prior to making this letter public this week, Gonsalves said it was distributed via several channels to ensure its safe delivery to President Putin.
He also revealed that SVG’s ambassador to the UN, Rhonda King also briefed several diplomats at that level as well.
Much of what is written in the prime minister’s letter was also reflected in King’s statement to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday afternoon.