ASEAN is slowly finding its voice over Ukraine

From: Chatham House
Published: Fri Mar 04 2022


Southeast Asia has avoided taking sides over the invasion of Ukraine, reflecting divisions in the region's relations with Russia.

After a week in which they have struggled to say anything meaningful about the Russian attack on Ukraine, the ten members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) finally called for an immediate ceasefire'. At the heart of ASEAN's difficulties lies the region's wide range of relationships with Moscow.

Russia's closest partner in the region is probably Vietnam, its fifth-largest arms purchaser. Russian companies are also major investors in Vietnam's oil and gas sector. At the other end of the scale, Singapore's trade with Russia amounts to less than one per cent of its total international trade.

Straddling such divisions is normal business for ASEAN. It traditionally adopts a lowest common denominator' position between all the foreign ministries and so, as a result, ASEAN's collective response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine had been characteristically bland.

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Company: Chatham House

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