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States of Guernsey provides overview of steps taken to date in response to war in Ukraine

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Friday 11 March 2022

The States of Guernsey has provided an overview of the steps taken to date in response to the war in Ukraine.

States Members received a briefing this week outlining key strategic considerations and potential implications locally, in light of the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Ukraine.

This covered a wide range of topics, including:

Humanitarian effort and public appeals

The Policy & Resources Committee has made a commitment of £500,000 to support the people of Ukraine. This donation, on behalf of the people of Guernsey and Alderney, reflects the strength of local feeling and solidarity for Ukraine and its people who are having their sovereignty and safety threatened by Russia waging an unjust war in their country. The donation will be split equally between two organisations, the British Red Cross and UK for UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees). 

Separately, in light of the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Ukraine, the Bailiff has opened the Bailiff's Disaster Relief Fund Ukraine Appeal. The Fund provides a facility through which donations by islanders can be channelled to the Disasters Emergency Committee, an English-registered charity. For all the details, including how to make a donation, go to: http://www.guernseyroyalcourt.gg/

There has been a strong community response to the humanitarian crisis and many local businesses, established and registered charities, community groups and individuals have donated or have developed initiatives to show support for the Ukrainian people on behalf of the Bailiwick.

Imposition of sanctions on Russian activity, businesses and individuals

The Bailiwick of Guernsey follows UK foreign policy, such as in the response to the Russian Federation's invasion of Ukraine, and sanctions help to reinforce those foreign policy objectives. Any changes to the UK sanctions regime apply automatically in the Bailiwick.  This means that the Bailiwick is in lockstep with the UK in how these measures apply, which is part of a globally coordinated response. Sanctions in place to date include restrictions on named individuals and businesses, export bans on certain goods, and denying access to ports and airspace to Russian-linked vessels and aircraft respectively.

Impact on supply chains and pricing

At this stage, we have no immediate concerns about direct impacts on our supply chains. However, the impact of the war in Ukraine on commodity costs and price inflation is more likely and we have already seen evidence of it with petrol prices increasing locally. Energy and fuel prices are likely to increase in the short term, and there may be a price increase on foods that rely on wheat, corn, barley and oil, for which Ukraine is a key partner in the global supply chain. We are keeping a close eye on these issues.

Increased risk of cyber attacks

While there remains no specific identified cyber-attack threat for us, it is very important that the whole community remains vigilant. Our monitoring and assessment team reviews any changes to risk for government services on a daily basis and regularly engages with key external stakeholders such as telecoms providers, the Guernsey Financial Services Commission and utility providers. We have seen a noticeable increase in the number of phishing emails since the war began, both locally and globally. The whole community needs to remain vigilant against such emails, which are designed to appear to be from reputable sources in order to dupe people into providing personal information or access to their device via the clicking of a link.

Government representatives have been liaising with the finance sector and stakeholder bodies to raise the awareness of the importance of cyber threats and business continuity. However, all businesses are advised that the National Cyber Security Centre has recently published guidance about actions which organisations can take when the threat level is heightened. It can be found at https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/actions-to-take-when-the-cyber-threat-is-heightened

Ukrainian Family Visa Scheme

The Guernsey Border Agency immigration team (GBA) remain in regular dialogue with the UK Home Office.  Our immigration regime protects the Bailiwick's interests whilst ensuring that our participation in the Common Travel Area (CTA) continues. We are aligned with the UK's Ukrainian Family Visa scheme.

The GBA has received a number of enquiries for the extended family visa but no applications at this point. We are expecting to receive applications based on the enquiries we have had. This would be via the UK visa system with the UK then requesting that we verify an entry clearance application.  The visa is available for free and will be issued for a period of up to three years. A team that spans our services is assessing the range and types of support that may be required, depending on circumstances, and how this would be best provided and co-ordinated.

We have also received requests for Ukrainian nationals to extend their stay in the island.

Finance sector and general economic impact

Officers from economic development have engaged with industry and the regulator on sanctions to ensure all are notified directly of any changes. Analysis shows the impact of sanctions for the sector is minimal, due to very limited exposure to Russian clients and assets.  The economic impact for the finance sector is considered minimal at this time. In terms of wider economic impact, this is likely to be felt through inflationary pressure and possible interest rates hikes.

Wider political engagement

Political representatives from Guernsey, Alderney and Sark attended a Bailiwick Council meeting on Wednesday afternoon (9th March).  The important topic of the Bailiwick's response to the war in Ukraine was discussed.  Those present observed that the Bailiwick acted together as one for the sanctions applied and felt as one for the humanitarian crisis that was developing.  Guernsey, Alderney and Sark are all determined to play whatever part they can to support Ukraine and its people.

Deputy Jonathan Le Tocq, Guernsey's Minister for External Relations, also spoke to two UK Ministers on Wednesday to discuss the UK Government's ongoing response to the war in Ukraine, including the passage of the UK's Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Bill and sanctions measures. Deputy Le Tocq and the Ministers from Jersey and the Isle of Man reiterated that the islands stand with the UK in support of Ukraine.

Deputy Peter Ferbrache, Chief Minister, said:

'Speaking for myself, I have been very reassured by the steps taken by Guernsey's government to respond in practical ways, in support of the Ukrainian people, and to ensure we're as prepared as we can be for any potential local impacts as a result of the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine. You can never plan for every eventuality, but it is clear we are as well-prepared as reasonably possible.

'The Ukrainian people simply do not deserve this unjust war and I know islanders wish to support them however we can. We stand with the international community in strongly condemning Vladimir Putin's actions.  It is important to recognise that such actions have a tangible impact for people here, some 2,000 miles away. Many people within the Bailiwick are currently having a very difficult time as a result of the war. This includes islanders with family links to Ukraine. We pride ourselves in the Bailiwick for our community togetherness, rightly so, and I call on everyone to support each other during what are dark days for Europe.'

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