Ukraine’s deputy ambassador to Nigeria, Bohdan Soltys, Tuesday said Russia attacked Ukraine because it wants to restore the Soviet Union.
“This act of war was is in no way provoked by Ukraine. Russia just wants to restore the Soviet Union,” he said.
Mr Soltys said this while speaking with PREMIUM TIMES at the CommonWealth Day event organised by the British High Commission in Nigeria.
“Ukraine is a peaceful nation who was attacked by an aggressor, Russia is the aggressor,” he said.
He said Russia is using terrorist methods in Ukraine by shelling the civilian population and killing women and children. He cited the bombing of a maternity hospital.
“If the world does not join to stop Russia today, who will be next? Other nations will also suffer. You know such aggressors, their appetite only tends to increase until they are stopped,” Mr Soltys added.
When asked if he was in talks with his Russian counterpart in Nigeria, he said, “the highest levels are already discussing, I see no point discussing it with my Russian counterpart here in Nigeria.”
“There are now conversations about a so-called peace negotiation between the delegation of Ukraine and Russia. Russia is violating international law. While they are negotiating peace, Russia keeps shelling and bombing Ukraine; this is totally unacceptable, against international law and simply humanity,” he said.
Appreciating Commonwealth member states and other countries, Mr Soltys said it was nice to be among representatives of other nations who know what is going on and who are very supportive.
Commonwealth Day in Abuja
The British High Commissioner in Nigeria, on Tuesday, marked the 2022 Commonwealth Day with a series of events in Abuja and Lagos.
The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, in her welcome speech, reiterated the United Kingdom’s position on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its support for the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Ms Laing noted that “it has been clear all along that the Russian government was never serious about engaging in diplomacy and was only focused on deceit and furthering their territorial ambitions.”
She acknowledged the presence of Mr Soltys, saying the Commonwealth is in solidarity with Ukraine and the amazing bravery of its citizens.
Ms Laing noted that the Commonwealth charter is very important as it documents the values and aspirations of member states which is what unites the Commonwealth.
“It expresses the commitment of the member states to free, democratic societies and the promotion of peace,” she said, adding that whether or not countries represented at the gathering are in the Commonwealth, “I think all of us here tonight will be in solidarity with these values.”
Abdullahi Omaki, special assistant to the Nigerian president on foreign affairs, in his remarks noted that nations could have their differences but the survival of humanity takes precedence.
He said he believes the Commonwealth symbolises an institutional platform where the preservation of international peace should be discussed.
“The world is going through tremendous changes and very interesting times. We do not know where we are going but wherever we are headed, we pray that good reason prevails,” he added.
Ms Laing presented the 214th Commonwealth Points of Light award to Uloma Ogba and Hauwa Balami, founders of a Nigerian NGO, ‘Give Girls A Chance,’ for their voluntary work in their local community.
The NGO received the award for the work it does to help girls between 10 and 19, from low-income families, identify and benefit from opportunities that will help them forge successful careers. Over 2000 girls have directly benefited from the programme since it started in 2016.
Queen Elizabeth, as head of the Commonwealth, launched the award as part of the legacy of the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London. The award recognises inspirational volunteers from across the 54 Commonwealth nations for the difference they are making in their communities and beyond them.
A Platinum Pudding competition was also featured as part of the event which was won by the South African embassy in Nigeria.
The event brought together Commonwealth member states in Abuja as well as friends.
In Lagos, the Deputy High Commissioner, Ben Llewellyn-Jones, hosted a Commonwealth Day reception on March 14 in Lagos.
The UK took over the leadership of the Commonwealth in 2018 and was due to hand over to Rwanda in 2020 but was disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, later this year, Rwanda will be taking over leadership.
Commonwealth Day is an annual celebration observed by people all over the Commonwealth. It encourages individuals, communities, and organisations to take pride in the Commonwealth identity and promote the shared values and principles of peace, democracy, and equality, and celebrate the rich diversity of the Commonwealth’s 54 member countries.
Commonwealth Day has been observed every year since the 1970s. This year marks 45 years since Commonwealth Day became a global celebration marked on the second Monday in March. Last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Commonwealth Day was held virtually for the first time.
The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 54 independent and sovereign states with a combined population of 2.5 billion. The Commonwealth spans the globe and includes both advanced economies and developing countries. About 32 of its members are small states, including island nations.
Chiamaka Okafor is a reporter at Premium Times in partnership with Report for the World, which matches local newsrooms with talented emerging journalists to report on under-covered issues around the globe.
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