By Carlena Knight
Foreign Affairs Minister Chet Greene has predicted that there will be major implications for the country as tensions continue to rise in Europe, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
On Thursday morning, Russian forces launched an assault on Ukraine, crossing its borders and bombing military targets near big cities.
Russian military vehicles are reported to have breached Ukraine’s border in a number of places, in the north, south and east, including from Belarus.
With several major countries being at the brink of war, sanctions already being imposed by the UK and US on Russia, and the Covid pandemic still ongoing, Greene foresees that there will be even greater implications for Antigua and Barbuda, the biggest being food security.
“It is clear that an escalating war in Europe, with other global powers getting involved will have – and I am not saying, likely to have – will have [an impact] on a number of issues including our food security,” he warned.
“We really do not need this sort of activity to take place, especially on the global stage. At a time when we see manufacturing inflation, this will only cause further hardship on people, Antigua and Barbuda included.
“We have already seen where oil prices have moved since the intervention or incursion of the Russian troops into Ukraine and the longer this protracts, the more of this we will see; oil prices increasing, supply and demand chains increasing and, most critically, will be the food security issues.
“Already the pandemic has affected food supplies and so a war can only further escalate or worsen an already bad situation,” Greene explained.
It is for these reasons why Greene has not only condemned Russia’s actions but called for peace and diplomatic talks to take place.
He did however assure the public that there are no Antiguan or Barbudan students studying in the Ukraine, or citizens that he is aware of, currently there.
Greene’s call for peace was echoed by the UN Secretary General who, in a press conference on Thursday afternoon, called for peace to reign as many people will be negatively affected if a full-scale war breaks out.
Countries like the US, UK and even the Caribbean have also publicly condemned Russia’s actions. A statement from Caricom yesterday 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”.
And it urged all parties involved to “urgently embark on intensified diplomatic dialogue to immediately de-escalate hostilities and work towards a sustainable peace”.
Protestors have also taken to the streets in London, Tokyo and Paris, plus Austria, Spain and several other countries to speak out against Vladimir Putin’s actions, comparing his moves to those of the Nazi Germans in World War II.
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson told MPs yesterday that the Russian President was a “bloodstained aggressor” who would “stand condemned in the eyes of the world and of history” for invading Ukraine.
The UK and US have both implemented “painful” sanctions on Russia.
Johnson told the House of Commons that they were “the largest and most severe package of economic sanctions that Russia has ever seen”.
Major Russian banks will be excluded from the UK financial system while Russia’s national airline Aeroflot will also be banned from landing in the UK.
Johnson said the sanctions being imposed would enable the UK to ban Russian state and private companies from raising funds, and he confirmed that sanctions will also be applied to Belarus for its role in the assault on Ukraine.
At least seven people are known to have been killed by Russian shelling, including civilians. A Ukrainian presidential adviser said that more than 40 soldiers had died and dozens more been wounded, but this has not been independently confirmed.
Ukraine has announced martial law across the country, meaning the military has taken control temporarily.
Traffic jams have built up as people attempt to flee the capital Kyiv.