By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
The Federated States of Micronesia today severed its diplomatic ties with Russia, condemning its Thursday's attack on Ukraine that led to hundreds of casualties.
"The FSM condemns the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine and the unjustified and brutal assault on its people and territory, which our country recognizes as unambiguously villainous and holds in the highest form of contempt," FSM President David Panuelo said.
“The people and government of the FSM stand in solidarity with the people and government of Ukraine, a country that, like ours, embraces democracy and democratic principles, and the rule of law," he added.
Russia invaded key cities across Ukraine in a broad offensive that included the capture of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, sending Europe into one of the most tumultuous security crises since World War II.
In a statement, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said at least 137 people have been killed and 316 have been injured during the attack. In a video address, he said warned of saboteurs entering the capital.
In Washington D.C., President Joe Biden announced new sanctions on Russia "to impair its ability to compete in a high-tech 21st century economy."
"In today’s actions, we have now sanctioned Russian banks that together hold around $1 trillion in assets," Biden said.
In a press briefing with reporters at the White House, Biden said the U.S. cut off Russia’s largest bank — a bank that holds more than one third of Russia’s banking assets by itself — from the U.S. financial system."
Panuelo extended his nation's sympathies to the people and government of Ukraine, saying Russia's brutal assault was unjustifiable.
"To the people and government of Ukraine: while it may be little comfort, the people and government of the FSM supports your sovereignty, and supports your right to exist, including your right to exist in peace and harmony with your neighbors," the FSM leader said.
Panuelo said the FSM will only consider restoring diplomatic relations with the Russian Federation "when the latter demonstrates actionable commitments to peace, friendship, cooperation and love in our common humanity."
Panuelo said the FSM aligns itself with "the international rules-based order and the rule of law," and reaffirmed its alliance with the United States.
"The FSM affirms its stalwart supportof the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the United Nations, who correctly condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine," Panuelo said.
"The FSM supports the removal of the Russian Federation in its capacity as President of the United Nations Security Council; Russia remaining there is a façade, as they need to be upholdingthe international rules-based order instead of undermining it.”
Panuelo said like any other Pacific island country, the FSM preferred to be neutral -- "friends to all and enemies to none," which is the cornerstone of his foreign policy.
"But values and convictions must matter more than not at all, and as this Paradise in Our Backyards is founded on our Micronesian ideals of peace, unity, and liberty, so too do we advocate for these ideals to be shared and spread," Panuleo said.
“The Pacific Way is built on respect, where problems and disagreements are resolved through conversation and spending time getting to truly know the points of view that differ from your own and, from there,reaching a consensus. The presence of war is, on its face, the starkest demonstration of the absence of respect.”
Panuelo said he has reponded to Ukraine's call for its partner-nations to cut Russia loose.
"The FSM is a partner of Ukraine and other democracies, and is taking the same step to sever diplomatic relations with the Russian Federation," he said.
"The FSM is taking this concrete step as a demonstration that we stand with Ukraine and categorically reject the most blatant act of aggression in Europe since World War II," the FSM president added.