Ukraine strengthens political ties in Southeast Asia with peace treaty


The treaty with ASEAN is largely symbolic, but will come as Kiev seeks increased international support and Russia’s isolation on the world stage.

Ukraine has signed a peace treaty with countries in Southeast Asia, a largely symbolic act that comes as Kiev seeks to bolster international support and further isolate Russia from the global stage.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kulbela signed the Treaty on Friendship and Cooperation in Southeast Asia on Thursday at the annual summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh.

The “TAC” peace treaty commits parties to “mutual respect for the independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity and national identity of all nations”.

Despite the invitation to sign a treaty with ASEAN, local media reported that the regional bloc had failed to allow Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to address the summit via video link from Kiev.

Zelenskyy has addressed summits and parliaments around the world since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, including the UN General Assembly, the UN Security Council, the British House of Commons and the US Congress.

The 10-strong ASEAN bloc has been coy in their stance on the Russian invasion, condemning the war but generally trying to avoid blaming Moscow.

Eight of the 10 ASEAN countries voted in favor of an UNGA resolution condemning Russian aggression, and close Russian allies Vietnam and Laos abstained. The ASEAN members are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Myanmar’s military rulers are currently barred from attending ASEAN meetings due to the ongoing violence in the country since their February 2021 coup. The generals had refused to send non-political representatives to ASEAN instead.

Member state Singapore has taken the strongest stance on the war and has imposed unilateral sanctions on Russia, while Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen, the current holder of the rotating ASEAN chairman, has increasingly supported Ukraine.

“Cambodia opposes the aggression, threat or use of force over the sovereignty and territorial integrity of an independent state, and does not support the secession or annexation of territory by other countries,” Hun Sen told Zelenskyy at a recent conference. telephone call. .

The Cambodian leader also pledged to support Ukraine’s aspirations to become a “Sectoral Dialogue Partner” with ASEAN, a step toward the full “Dialogue Partnership” the group has with Russia, China, the US and others.

US President Joe Biden is in person at the ASEAN and parallel East Asia summits, while Russian President Vladimir Putin is not – and Moscow would instead send Secretary of State Sergey Lavrov, although it hasn’t yet. confirmed.

Indonesia confirmed on Thursday that Putin will also not attend the G-20 summit in Bali next week, and it seems unlikely that he will attend the subsequent Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Bangkok.

Putin’s absence should leave the door open for Ukraine to try to gain more international support, Susannah Patton, director of the Southeast Asia program at Australian think tank Lowy Institute, wrote in an analysis published Thursday.

“While opinions in Asia on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine remain mixed, the summits probably look better for Ukraine than for Russia, and Putin’s absence will undermine the discussion of a Russian pivot to Asia,” Patton said.

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