By Kadeem Joseph
One of Antigua and Barbuda’s leading diplomats and voices on issues of foreign affairs, Sir Ronald Sanders, says he is not troubled by the prospect of Russia retaliating against the country and the rest of Caricom for speaking out against its actions in Ukraine.
Last week, the twin island nation joined the rest of the sub-region in condemning Russia’s invasion of its Eastern European neighbour.
Sir Ronald, who is currently Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United States and the Organization of American States (OAS), said “the truth is, there is not much Russia can do”.
Russian troops launched an anticipated attack on Ukraine last Thursday, as President Vladimir Putin ignored international condemnation and sanctions, warning other countries that any attempt to interfere would lead to consequences they have never seen.
Sanders explained that the country has very little trade relations with Russia, pointing out that the twin island state mainly trades with the United States, and to a lesser extent, with Canada and the European Union.
“So, he can’t affect the Caribbean in terms of trade. We don’t buy oil from Russia for instance,” he added, as he questioned the idea of Putin specifically targeting the region when there is already widespread condemnation of his actions.
Sir Ronald believes it is important for countries like Antigua and Barbuda, with limited military and economic power, to speak out on the conflict in Europe.
“All we have is international law as our main defence; that is our sword and our shield, and when other countries violate that law, we become exposed,” he added. “Because it means the door is being opened to more and more of these laws and principles disappearing, and when they do, we are no longer protected, we don’t have international law on which to rely… anything can happen and that must be our fear.”
The diplomat warned that a failure to respect international law could potentially plunge the world into “chaos” and small countries “would be the first to suffer”.