The invasion of Ukraine is felt deeply by the people of the Falkland Islands who are marking the 40th anniversary of the end of their own war, a politician has said.
Leona Roberts, a Falkland Islands Legislative Assembly Member, said: “It is something that has resonated deeply with our community.
“We have felt so much empathy for the people of Ukraine in just understanding what it feels like to be invaded and to go through such a dreadful experience – although, the scale is monumentally different.
“At home there has been an immediate push to start fundraising and provide support to Ukraine that has been incredibly well-supported.”
Ms Roberts was aged 10 and living in the capital Stanley when Argentine forces invaded the Falklands on April 2 1982, prompting a war that lasted for 74 days. She spoke about the anniversary at the opening of a commemorative photography exhibition at London’s National Army Museum.
It is part of a calendar of events aimed at commemorating the sacrifices in 1982 and to celebrate the progress made in the islands in the South Atlantic over the past 40 years.
A taskforce set sail from the UK three days after the invasion, eventually involving almost 26,000 armed forces and 3,000 civilian crew.
Several weeks of intense fighting followed and Argentine forces surrendered on June 14 1982, a date that has since been known in the Falkland Islands as Liberation Day and is a national holiday.
A total of 649 Argentine military personnel died as well as 255 British military personnel, and three Falkland Islanders.
Ms Roberts said the 40th anniversary events form part of a “very important year for the Falklands but also for our veterans” and they are a chance to show “our gratitude”.
Thomas Herring, 71, was a sergeant in the 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment when Argentina invaded.
Mr Herring, who is chairman of the South Atlantic Medal Association, said he is in contact with an Argentine veteran of the war and they never discuss the conflict or ownership of the islands.
He said: “He will always think it is always his and we will always think it is always ours – that is not in question.
“What is in question is how we went about it, how we can improve it and how we can remember comrades lost not only then but now. There are the ones who suffer from PTSD and it is unknown.”
Thankfully there are now experts to help those who are suffering, Mr Herring said.
Ms Roberts said the relationship with Argentina is not good as “they continue to do everything they can to hinder our economic growth, to prevent us having good relationships with other countries” and “essentially refuse to acknowledge that Falkland Islanders exist”.
She added: “I am a sixth-generation islander but my family have been there for nine. There was no indigenous population. We built the country from nothing.
“If we don’t have a right to self-determination and to take the political stance of our truth, then who does?”
Minister for the UK Overseas Territories Amanda Milling said: “We pay tribute to all veterans and their families. The UK government is committed to working with veterans’ organizations on both sides.
“We remember those who died and those who are still affected to this day, including their families.
“We will continue to defend the Falkland Islanders’ democratic rights and celebrate the modern, diverse community they have built.
“This is an important reminder that all peoples have the right to determine their own future.”