The Virgin Islands, along with the sister overseas territories and the United Kingdom, is part of a unique family that spans the globe, covering nine time zones. Whilst each member of the family is distinct, we are bound together by our shared values. I saw this firsthand in my recent visit, where I was privileged to meet many members of the VI government and public service, the dedicated teams working at the Dr. D. Orlando Smith Hospital and the BVI Red Cross, VI Search and Rescue, the Green Sprouts Club on Virgin Gorda, and the wider community.
Politics can often be bruising, and it is easy to take for granted the free and open societies we have established. However, events in Eastern Europe give us good reason not to be complacent, but also for us all to take a stand against Russia’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine.
Millions of Ukrainians have now fled their country, and many more have been displaced in their own land. It is obscene that in this day and age, Russia, a large and heavily armed country, should attack a smaller neighbour, bombing hospitals, killing children, and splitting up families.
There is no justification for the scenes of schoolchildren huddled seeking shelter in basements from missile attacks, nor of elderly Ukrainians forced to leave behind their family homes in the freezing winter.
In the OTs
The Ukrainian people will have been heartened to see their flag flying proudly across the UK overseas territories. The UK was one of the first countries to stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine, something Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky has recognised.
The overseas territories include approximately 270,000 people, control enormous swathes of ocean across the world, and have a pivotal role to play in global shipping and finance. Recently I held a call with the leaders of the overseas territories to listen to their views, thank them for the principled stand they had already taken and their immediate work to ensure that sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin and his associates are implemented in full. This united front shown by the overseas territories and the UK is an excellent example of how together we are a force for good on the world stage.
Not a ‘distant war’
To some, this may feel like just another distant war, but this war of choice started by Mr. Putin will have a profound impact on global supply chains when the cost of living has already risen sharply. Crucially, all our values are at risk if we don’t take action.
When this conflict is over, it will be clear who was on the right side of history. I believe the overseas territories should be proud of the role they have to play and the principled stand they have taken.
Ms. Milling, the United Kingdom Foreign Office minister of state, is responsible for the overseas territories. She visited the Virgin Islands last month.