The Government of Sri Lanka said it is “deeply concerned” about the recent escalation of violence in Ukraine.
In a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday, Sri Lanka called upon “all parties concerned” to exercise maximum restraint and work towards “the immediate cessation of hostilities, to maintain peace, security and stability in the region.” Further, Sri Lanka emphasised the need for “concerted efforts by all parties concerned” to resolve the crisis through “diplomacy and sincere dialogue”.
Sri Lanka has strong diplomatic and trading ties with Russia, with the island nation exporting goods, such as tea, worth about $ 150 million annually. Russia has also consistently supported Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council, in resolutions on war-time accountability and post-war reconciliation.
The fast-escalating Russia-Ukraine crisis could severely impact Sri Lanka’s economy, analysts have observed, especially since Russia and Ukraine are proving to be major source markets for Sri Lanka, which is trying hard to revive its pandemic-hit tourism sector amid a severe dollar crunch.
Russian tourists topped the arrival charts in January this year, official data showed. Indian tourists recorded the second highest number of arrivals, while tourists from Ukraine were third last month. On the other hand, Sri Lanka’s export sector, especially the garments industry, is heavily reliant on United States and European countries.
A group of Ukrainian nationals protested outside the Russian Embassy in Colombo on Friday. They were holding placards with messages including ‘Stop war’, ‘Stop Russia, Stop Putin’, as they gathered to oppose Russian President Vladimir Putin’s fast-escalating military action in their country.