By Orville Williams
Antigua and Barbuda is one of 141 countries that voted as members of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) yesterday, to overwhelmingly condemn Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
An emergency meeting of the UNGA is taking place this week to discuss the terror that has reportedly claimed the lives of hundreds of civilians so far, and is being attended by both the Ukrainian and Russian ambassadors to the UN.
In an interview with Observer last week, Foreign Affairs Minister EP Chet Greene denounced Russia’s actions and called for diplomatic talks to take place toward peace.
That call was echoed by UN Secretary General, António Guterres, who noted the millions of people that could be affected if a full-scale war were to erupt.
In addition, Caricom condemned the invasion and the military attacks, urging Russia to withdraw its military presence and cease any actions that could intensify the situation.
In yesterday’s vote, Caribbean countries including Barbados, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, and St Vincent and the Grenadines joined Antigua and Barbuda in condemning the aggression against Ukraine.
Meanwhile, five countries – Belarus, Eritrea, North Korea, Russia and Syria – voted against condemning Russia’s actions, and 35 others – including China, Cuba, India and South Africa – abstained from the vote.
After the vote, Guterres declared that the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine must be respected in line with the Charter of the United Nations, reiterating that the impact of the invasion on Ukrainians was visible to the world.
He added that, without urgent action, the situation could worsen significantly.
Though Antigua and Barbuda has joined much of the rest of the world in condemning Russia’s actions, it remains to be seen what its relationship with the Vladimir Putin-led administration will be like going forward.
Just last year, Prime Minister Gaston Browne signed a bilateral agreement alongside Russia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Sergey Lavrov, to boost cooperation between the countries in trade, education and sports, among other areas.
Since the invasion, however, several countries and corporations have launched sanctions against Russia – hitting the country’s financial services, transport sector and even its international football participation.
Questioned whether the twin island nation would possibly tread a similar path, Greene reiterated that the country is standing in solidarity with the rest of the world against the invasion through its various diplomatic channels, adding that “there is no need for any unilateral sanctions to be imposed by Antigua and Barbuda at this stage”.