By Dana Malcolm
#Ukraine, February 28, 2023 – Exactly a year ago Vladimir Putin appeared on Russian television and announced that he was launching a ‘special military operation’ into Ukraine. As the Russian Invasion enters its second year we look back on the ripple effects felt around the world.
In the early weeks after the invasion residents began to flee en masse. The crush included students from across the globe, expatriate workers and citizens. Reports of racism against people of colour at the borders began to emerge. Neighbouring countries faithfully kept their borders open and people were allowed to leave as quickly as their legs could take them. Many walked hundreds of miles as cars ran out of gas and traffic made vehicular escape impossible. Behind them, the fighting began in earnest.
As of February 14th 8.1 million refugees have left the country, which is a crippling 20 per cent of the population lost. The UN says 21 thousand of civilians have been killed or injured so far.
After the war began Russia was hit with sanctions left and right by the EU, the United States and their allies. Retailers, restaurant chains, tech companies, luxury goods stores and more pulled out of the country en masse. Russian athletes were blacklisted from sporting events including tennis and countries are calling for their athletes to be banned from the 2024 Olympics.
Censorship in the country has become increasingly harsh and the divide between those who support the war and those who don’t is a hard line with coworkers and schoolmates reportedly turning in others deemed as traitors or dissidents to the Kremlin (the government of the Russain Federation), resulting in long jail sentences for journalists and even teenagers. Russia is estimated to have lost as many as 60 thousand soldiers with 200 thousand wounded or dead.
Europe and the UK
At the beginning of the war after placing sanctions on the country and its oligarchs, Washington pushed for sanctions on its oil and energy, a tricky position for the EU which then bought the majority of its oil and gas from Russia. After much infighting, the countries agreed to ban the purchase of certain Russian energy and promised to wean themselves off the stuff by the end of 2023. Russia was quick to retaliate; it instituted a new law instructing all of the ‘unfriendly countries’ to pay for their oil in rubles, a move the EU described as blackmail. After that, citing pipeline issues it turned off the gas supply to several countries including Germany forcing them into crisis mode and prompting blackouts to preserve power as they scrambled to find new energy supplies.
In the UK gas prices reached record highs forcing the government to provide multimillion-dollar relief.
The effects of the invasion on Africa are as varied as the countries on the continent.
Most African nations have refused to outright denounce the war as the conflicts in their own countries are relegated to the back page.
In North Africa where wheat produced in Russia and Ukraine is essential, the prices of bread basket items rose exponentially. Areas like Ethiopia and Somalia saw 66 per cent and 36 per cent jumps respectively according to the UN, furthering a food crisis affecting millions with malnourished children dying daily. In other parts of Africa, lucrative oil deals were signed as the EU struggled to keep the lights on. Algeria, Senegal, Angola, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria all reached deals with the EU or specific countries to supply gas.
Most recently South Africa participated in a military drill with Russia and China that fell on the anniversary of the invasion.
With the fighting far away, the effects felt in the Caribbean were mostly economical. With the supply chain in disarray, food prices shot up to extreme highs and oil prices followed; electricity bills caused panic. Inflation driven by the conflict wrecked the purchasing power of Caribbean residents who already pay higher prices for goods and governments were forced to implement relief measures including stimulus cheques and price caps.
The UN warned that interest rate hikes implemented in the US, UK and other large economies to curb inflation would reverberate hardest in the Caribbean and other Small Island Developing States (which did nothing to slow them down).
Russia also took shots at some countries directly listing the Turks and Caicos and 10 other UK overseas territories as well as The Bahamas as ‘unfriendly territories’.
The US-Russia relationship has deteriorated significantly since the beginning of the conflict with the two countries declaring each other as enemies in everything but name. A tense prisoner exchange in late 2022 is as close as the two have gotten to publicly negotiating in the past year.
The country is Ukraine’s biggest patron sending billions and billions of dollars’ worth of weaponry and humanitarian aid to the country.
The war may drag on but the hope globally is that it will end soon as risks of further economic shock; and the displacement, assault and murder of innocents, loom on the horizon.
Saunders “surprised” by move to Backbench; promises to address the nation this week
#TurksandCaicosIslands, February 28, 2023 – Surprise was one of the main emotions rolling off of E. Jay Sauders, All Island Elected Member, when he spoke to Magnetic Media Tuesday afternoon. The brief phone interview came only minutes after he confirmed to the media around 3 p.m. that he had been removed from his post as Deputy Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands by Washington Misick, TCI Premier.
“I am a bit surprised– I sit here at the pleasure of the Premier, the Premier acted in a certain way and it is his right to decide who he wants and doesn’t want in his cabinet and that’s the position that he took.”
The biggest question now is who will replace Saunders as the Premier’s right hand man, Magnetic Media spoke to a high-profile source around 3:30 pm who told us: “The Premier hasn’t made a decision in that regard as yet so there’s nothing yet to announce.”
It’s likely, the source told us, that the Premier will take on the Ministry of Finance himself, having had experience with that ministry in the past.
Sure enough minutes after that conversation a press release came from the Office of the Premier announcing that he is the new Minister of Finance, Investment and Trade; the statement also bid Saunders goodbye.
“I wish to thank Honourable Saunders for his service these past three years as my Deputy and for his stewardship in the ministries he served,” Misick said.
It comes as no surprise to residents however and a firestorm of comments followed the announcement,
“This is so wrong!!!” said one resident.
It was a sentiment fielded by Magnetic Media over a dozen times.
“He is running this country and this party with his silly feelings. And with Washy age, he need to relax himself.”
Another predicted, “This will hurt the PNP in the next election for sure, plus with the current conflict of interest matter pending with Washy and the Integrity Commission, this was not the best move at this time for him to be both Premier and Minister of Finance.”
The booting is the second high-profile shuffle in the Washington Misick-led PNP Administration following the removal of Akierra Missick, Elected Member for Leeward from her post as Minister of Physical Planning and Infrastructure Development in 2023.
That shakeup went totally without explanation, similarly, no explanation has come from the Premier’s office this time either, but it follows a leadership challenge at the party’s national convention just days prior.
Saunders had attempted to go against Misick for the head of the PNP party but could not get enough votes to push the challenge through.
As a former CEO of DigicelTCI, E. Saunders initially served as the Health and Human Services minister as the country clawed its way back to health after a brutal Coronavirus Pandemic. He was then appointed, by Misick, to the ministry for Finance, Investment and Trade, setting and achieving lofty goals including the achievement of a $400 million yearly revenue two years into his tenure and the removal of the Turks and Caicos from the EU Blacklist of non-compliant tax jurisdictions.
Now with one year left before a new general election is called, Saunders, in his own words, will join the rest of the backbench of politicians.
Also feeling the “stick” is reported to be Jas Walkin, the man Washington Misick appointed to lead his winning general election campaign in 2021. Walkin had put his name forward for party leader but hurriedly withdrew it. Reports of a suspension have been shared via social media with residents expressing disdain at the possibility.
The consensus from many, they’re not surprised and also not happy about the removal of Jas.
For now, Saunders is focused on moving,
“Depending on how quickly I can get through the packing up of my office, I’ll do a Public Address tomorrow, but no later than Wednesday,” he promised.
The demotion also means a significant pay cut for Saunders from the Deputy Premier’s $175,000 base salary and $60,000 in allowances to the $97,000 base salary and $10,200 in allowances which is paid out to Members of the House of Assembly, where he will continue to serve as an All Island Elected member.
Kyle Speaks as Party Chairman
#TurksandCaicos, February, 27th, 2024 – After a challenge to the party’s leadership and resulting public chatter, Kyle Knowles, Progressive National Party Chairman is calling for the PNP to ‘stand together in support of the ‘duly elected premier and leader,’ emphasizing that ‘the re-election reflects the confidence and trust placed in him by the members of the party.’ The challenge was issued by E Jay Saunders, current Deputy Party Leader over the weekend, Knowles maintains there was unity, civility, and passionate debates during the National Congress. It comes on the cusp of a general election where the winning party will have for the first time 5 years in office.
Premier makes first national Statement, Announces who gets Finance Portfolio
#TurksandCaicosIslands, February 27, 2024 – The Premier has advised Her Excellency Anya Williams, Acting Governor, in accordance with Section 34(2)(b) of the Turks and Caicos Islands Constitution the following change to ministerial appointments with effect from Tuesday, February 27, 2024:
• Honourable Charles Washington Misick, Premier and Minister with responsibility for Finance, Investment, and Trade
The Honourable Erwin Jay Saunders will continue to serve as Member of Parliament for the All-Island District.
In announcing this ministerial change, the Premier stated, “I wish to thank Honourable Saunders for his service these past three years as my Deputy and for his stewardship in the ministries he served. My government will undertake a review of the various functions and responsibilities as outlined in the current ministerial portfolios, and I will advise the Acting Governor of any additional changes in due course.”
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