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Neutral on Russia-Ukraine: PM

BANGKOK: Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has insisted Thailand will maintain its neutrality in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, a government source said.

RussianviolencepoliticsdeathmilitaryUkraine
By Bangkok Post

Wednesday 2 March 2022, 09:34AM


The first group of 38 Thai people evacuated from Ukraine pose for a photo before boarding a Thai Airways International flight in Bucharest, Romania. They are scheduled to arrive at Suvarnabhumi airport today (Mar 2). Photo: Foreign Ministry

The first group of 38 Thai people evacuated from Ukraine pose for a photo before boarding a Thai Airways International flight in Bucharest, Romania. They are scheduled to arrive at Suvarnabhumi airport today (Mar 2). Photo: Foreign Ministry

The source said a meeting of cabinet ministers yesterday (Mar 1) discussed the issue extensively following some 25 ambassadors based in Thailand pressuring the government to speak out against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, reports the Bangkok Post.

Prayut told the meeting that the long-standing relations between Thailand and Russia must be taken into account and Thailand must tread carefully, the source said.

“We need to be composed and make decisions carefully. Thailand must maintain a neutral stance and bring Thais in Ukraine back home quickly,” the source quoted the PM as saying.

Speaking after the cabinet meeting, Prayut said Thailand will adhere to Asean’s stance on the conflict between Russia and Ukraine as the grouping has called for dialogue among parties concerned to resolve the Ukraine crisis.

The prime minister was speaking yesterday after the 25 ambassadors met with the permanent secretary for the Foreign Ministry Thani Thongphakdi at the ministry on Monday.

The ambassadors asked Thailand to speak out against the Russian invasion of Ukraine and support the United Nations General Assembly’s (UNGA) resolution on the Ukraine crisis.

After the meeting, David Daly, the European Union ambassador to Thailand, tweeted that the ambassadors visited the ministry to send a message that the Russian invasion of Ukraine breaches the UN Charter and that all UN members, including Thailand, should “speak up to save our rules-based international order and vote for the UN Resolution”.

He was referring to the UNGA’s resolution, which is expected to be put to a vote this week at the UN headquarters in New York.

Asked by reporters to comment on the matter yesterday, Prayut insisted that Thailand has to follow Asean’s stance on the matter.

“It is about the regional grouping’s decision. We need to keep a balance. But most importantly, we have been concerned about the safety of people in countries involved in the conflict. We also have to ensure Thais in those countries are safe.

“We also support the peace process to end the conflict and war. We need to tread carefully and act through Asean’s mechanisms,” Prayut said.

On Saturday, Asean foreign ministers issued a statement calling for dialogue among parties concerned in the Ukraine crisis.

“We call on all relevant parties to exercise maximum restraint and make utmost efforts to pursue dialogue through all channels, including diplomatic means to contain the situation,” the ministers said in the statement.

Russia launched a military attack against Ukraine last Thursday after recognising the independence of the Eastern European country’s Donbas region held by Russia-backed separatists.

“We believe that there is still room for a peaceful dialogue to prevent the situation from getting out of control,” the Asean ministers said.

Asked what measures will be taken to deal with the impacts on Thailand if the conflict drags on, the prime minister said he held an urgent meeting with his deputies to instruct them to devise measures to respond to the situation.

On Feb 17, Mr Thani welcomed Russian ambassador Evgeny Tomikhin who paid a courtesy call upon assuming his diplomatic role in Thailand.

The two sides discussed a range of topics on bilateral relations between the countries, including plans to hold activities to mark the 125th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Thailand and Russia this year.

The Thai side also sought Russia’s support for a bid for a free trade agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union and asked Russia to send its highly placed delegates to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit Thailand chairs this year.

On Monday, Mr Tomikhin led a delegation including Russian Consul General to Phuket Vladimir Sosnov, to pay a courtesy visit on Phuket deputy governor Pichet Panapong, acting on behalf of Phuket governor Narong Woonciew.

The topics discussed included the 125th anniversary of Thailand-Russia relations and plans to establish broader relations between Phuket and Russia’s Far Eastern federal district of Kamchatka.

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Kurt | 03 March 2022 - 11:01:16

Seems Thai rulers not yet know that ICC ( International Crime Court) in The Hague in The Netherlands already started to file the war crimes done by Russia in Ukraine. Putin and his partners in crimes will never have chance to leave Russia anymore. If they do, will be arrested and convicted in The Hague. And Thailand continues a relationship + celebration or nothing is happening?

Kurt | 03 March 2022 - 09:47:13

That Thailand is spineless to condemn  Russia for invading a peacefull country, day in day out committing war crimes is not surprising. But thick skin starting activities to 'celebrate' 125 year relationship with Russia is a bit to much. While almost the whole world put strong bans in force on Russia could Thailand at least delay a relationship celebration,.

JohnC | 03 March 2022 - 09:38:57

How can any Thai with a conscience want this sad weak man to be their leader any longer. Panders to the dictators and fascists of the world like the little puppper on a string that he is. Time for a proper FAIR election.

BobTB | 03 March 2022 - 03:25:25

“Long-standing relations between Thailand and Russia must be taken into account”. Principles count for nothing then? Silly me, I must be confusing Thailand with a democracy. Very surprisingly their ambassador voted in favour of the UN General Assembly motion condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Perhaps he hit the wrong button by accident?

Ash Ward | 02 March 2022 - 15:02:18

Yes Kurt,
Gen Prayut just sits on the fence.
He doesn't want upset the Russians!

Kurt | 02 March 2022 - 10:47:04

Probably Gen Prayut has been ordered by Beijing to declare Thai remains neutral as China as abstained voting on a UN security Counsel resolution to condemn Russia's attack on Ukraine. Lucky Prayut to have a big guiding hand when it comes to world politics.

 

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