The situation in Ukraine is grim, depressing – and feels like history repeating itself. I get a sense that Vladimir Putin wants to grab as much territory as possible (apart from Ukraine) and then retreat behind a 21st century version of the Iron Curtain. He is, after all, a former KGB man. He seems to be nostalgic for that era. But the world has moved on.
I am a Cold War baby. It was a dark time, and I remember growing up in the UK in fear of the Russians and “The Bomb.” My parents who lived through World War II had no illusions about the fractured nature of Europe and Europeans, from their own bitter experience. There was an old bomb shelter (pitch black inside, and scary) on the compound of our apartments in London. There were “bomb sites” where there had once been buildings and people. Many Jamaicans seem to be under the impression that Europe is one big, homogenous lump of “white people” – but that is far from the truth. It is, and always has been, tribal.
At the United Nations Security Council last night, the Ukrainian Ambassador shared bitter words, turning to address the Russian Ambassador directly (ironically, Russia chairs the UNSC currently) and saying:
There is no purgatory for war criminals. They go straight to hell, Ambassador.Ukraine Ambassador to the United Nations Sergiy Kyslytsya (February 23, 2022 at the UN Security Council)
Be that as it may, here is Jamaica’s Statement on Ukraine. The Caribbean Community has also issued a Statement.
STATEMENT ON RUSSIA’S MILITARY ACTION AGAINST UKRAINE
Jamaica strongly condemns the military action by Russia against Ukraine. We are deeply concerned by the escalation of violence in Ukraine and condemns the clear violation of the United Nations Charter, particularly the obligation to respect the sovereign rights and the territorial integrity of States.
As members of the United Nations, we have all committed to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war that has often brought untold sorrow to mankind. The ongoing incursions in Ukraine are a violation of that sacred promise.
Jamaica strongly urges Russia to cease all acts of aggression and to withdraw from Ukrainian territory. We also call for a return to diplomatic channels to continue engagement until there is a bridge of common understanding that will lead to peace.
Jamaica shares the hope that an escalation of war and further bloodshed can be avoided. We join other peace-loving nations in calling a cessation of hostilities, and for the immediate return to open dialogue, mutual understanding and respect for the rights of sovereign nations. Military conflict has grave implications for us all and must end without further delay.
Meanwhile, we have learned that there is a group of Jamaicans who are studying in Ukraine. There seems to be some confusion and concern about arrangements for the students; local media houses have been interviewing the students, who are making various claims about arrangements and communications made (or not made) for them. I will leave it at that, because I don’t know the true story (or stories). However, I do know that the students’ families and friends are agonizing over the plight of those who did not leave Ukraine.
War is not only about explosions and bloodshed. It is about fear. Perhaps this is what Putin wanted. I suspect though, that he has made a wrong move, and he and his country will ultimately pay the price.