Singapore has become the first nation in Southeast Asia to impose sanctions on Russia and to unequivocally condemn the government of President Vladimir Putin for its invasion of neighboring Ukraine.
What Happened: According to a report in Singaporean media resource The Strait Times, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan told Parliament on Monday that the city-state would impose export controls on items that can be used directly as weapons in the Russian invasion and would block certain Russian banks and financial transactions connected to Russia.
Balakrishnan did not offer specifics or a timeline on the sanctions but added that his government could not sit idly and watch the events in Ukraine unfold, noting that Singapore was among 82 co-sponsors of a recent United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Russia's aggression against Ukraine – the resolution did not pass because Russia - a permanent member of the Security Council, vetoed the measure.
“We continue to value our good relations with Russia and the Russian people,” he said. “However, we cannot accept such violations of sovereignty and territorial integrity of another sovereign state. We will continue to work with our ASEAN and international partners to take a strong stance against the invasion of Ukraine and to end further violence and bloodshed, and to de-escalate tensions.”
What Else Happened: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong reaffirmed Balakrishnan’s remarks, using his government's social media channels to explain Singapore’s reaction.
“If international relations are based on ‘might is right,’ the world will be a dangerous place for small countries like Singapore,” Lee stated. “This is why Singapore staunchly supports international law and the UN Charter, which prohibits acts of aggression against a sovereign state.”
Lee added that his government also spoke out against Russia’s 2014 invasion and annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and hinting it would not be unlikely if tiny Singapore would be in the cross-hairs of a larger aggressor state.
“The lessons for us, then and now, are stark,” he continued. “When treaties and diplomacy fail, we cannot rely on others to protect us. We must never lose the capability to defend ourselves. National Service and a strong, operationally ready SAF is our best deterrent against aggressors.”
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