Mitchell says no reports of Bahamians stranded near conflict area
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell warned on Thursday that gas prices in The Bahamas are expected to increase to eight dollars per gallon in the spring amidst the threat of a third world war after the Russian military invaded Ukraine this week.
Mitchell’s comments came just hours after Russia launched a wide-ranging attack on the country, hitting cities and bases with airstrikes or shelling and forcing civilians to flee for safety.
The government immediately condemned the invasion as “wrong” and “unlawful”, adding that it should end and be reversed.
The government has also joined in with its CARICOM partners in support of the position of the secretary general of the United Nations, who has called on Russia to stop their troops and “give peace a chance”.
“The Bahamas supports the right of self-determination, the inviolability of territory settled within legally defined borders,” Mitchell said.
“The seizure of territories based on tendentious interpretations of history should not be the basis for hegemony over other nations and peoples without their consent.
“We again call for the immediate cessation of hostilities and for the Russians to withdraw to their borders”.
In a televised message at the start of the attack, Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to justify the attack by asserting it was necessary to protect civilians in eastern Ukraine, where factions from both countries have been fighting for nearly eight years.
Putin accused the US and its allies of ignoring Russia’s demand to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO and offer Moscow security guarantees, and warned other countries that any attempt to interfere would “lead to consequences you have never seen in history”.
He claimed that Russia does not intend to occupy Ukraine but will seek to demilitarize it.
The move has led to rising energy costs, with global oil prices skyrocketing past $100 per barrel for the first time since 2014.
The United States has already begun to respond, with President Joe Biden issuing new sanctions on the country and ordering the deployment of troops to NATO ally Germany.
Mitchell confirmed that the government has not had any reports of Bahamians traveling or being stuck near the conflict area, whether it’s in Ukraine, Russia or Eastern Europe generally.
Fortunately, it’s not in this hemisphere, but everything has a knock-on effect.
– Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell
However, he said it is being predicted that the price of oil will be “sky-high”, with local costs for gas predicted at eight dollars for gasoline.
The veteran foreign affairs minister said in addition to growing energy costs, the country could see an impact on its tourism product.
He noted that the world and The Bahamas are still trying to emerge out of the COVID-19 pandemic, with people just now getting back to traveling.
“Fortunately, it’s not in this hemisphere, but everything has a knock-on effect,” he said.
“But the psychology of war just has a bad impact on us. We have to keep a level head.”
The Bahamas’ position
Mitchell also underscored the importance of The Bahamas indicating to its economic and political allies its position on the matter and standing with those who also supported the country, adding that it’s the principle that is being fought for.
“It’s just as easy for some big country to just walk in and take over your country and that’s what this appears to be,” he said.
Mitchell could not indicate whether The Bahamas will vote to implement sanctions on Russia, noting that the prime minister will travel to Belize to begin discussions with heads of government at CARICOM next week.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also reaffirmed its commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations.
“We call on all actors to seek a diplomatic solution to the current conflict that respects the rules-based system of international law and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” the minister said.
“We encourage all relevant actors to turn their efforts toward an immediate cessation of hostilities, the preservation of human life and the prevention of any action that may intensify an already dangerous situation, so that a peaceful and sustainable resolution can be achieved.”