UK diplomat: Trinidad and Tobago’s voice important on Ukraine invasion

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

British High Commissioner to TT Harriet Cross speaks with Newsday at her official residence in Maraval on March 4. – ROGER JACOB

BRITISH High Commissioner Harriet Cross welcomed Trinidad and Tobago joining in the recent vote at the UN General Assembly to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine, saying TT has a powerful voice within the multilateral system. She spoke with Newsday on Monday.

On March 2 the UN general assembly voted 141-5 to condemn the invasion, with 35 nations abstaining.

Cross said it was important for the people of TT to know what was happening during the invasion, as she took issue with certain claims by Russia reported in the TT media. She flatly denied a Russian claim that the invasion was done simply to protect ethnic Russians inside Ukraine from attack by Ukrainians.

“I was appalled by this disinformation. It’s a lie. There was no provocation.”

Cross denied the invasion was a limited operation but said that anyone with a cellphone could see for themselves that was not the case.

“Russia is indiscriminately targeting civilians. That is just appalling.”

Cross also accused Russia of falsely claiming TT would be hurt by world sanctions against Russia.

“That’s not true. It is disingenuous to say TT will suffer.”

She condemned Russia’s claim as an attempt to “peel away” TT from the position by most countries of condemning Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine.

Cross said the situation could affect global prices, a fact no country would be happy about, but democratic countries must take a stand even amid any such consequences.

Asked how she viewed the latest events in the invasion, she lamented that civilians were being targeted by the Russian military.

“It is quite interesting that we are seeing protests in Russia against the invasion by some very brave people.

“It is clear Ukrainian forces are fighting back quite heavily. Thirty Russian helicopters have been destroyed. The strength of Ukraine’s counter-attack has picked up pace.” Newsday asked if she knew anyone in Ukraine and what she had heard from them.

Cross said she knew the British high commissioner in Kyiv. “She hasn’t evacuated but has decided to stay in Ukraine. This morning in a tweet she said the invasion was ‘a callous and calculated assault on civilians.'” Cross said many countries want to report Russia to the International Criminal Court (ISS) for war crimes in Ukraine. “I’m seeing really brave Ukrainians fighting for their country. Students are signing up, getting guns and fighting for their country.”

Asked if Russia has invaded owing to a perceived weakness in the governance of western countries – such as in Brexit, covid19 protests or the US presidency under Joe Biden and Donald Trump – Cross said what she now saw was the “coherence, strength and organisation” of the West.

“All have quickly come together to take sanctions against Russia.

“Russia didn’t expect it. They didn’t expect coherence. Ukraine has now got all sorts of support.

“I think Putin expected this to be easier.”

Cross said it was important for the people of TT to have a clear and honest perspective on the unfolding events in Ukraine.

“It is an unprovoked attack on a democratic state.

“TT has stood firmly, condemning the Russian invasion.

“TT is part of the international community. You have a powerful voice.”