Ukraine is lobbying for the suspension of Russia’s membership in the Asia Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) and the Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM), as well as the dialogue partnership with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
Ukraine’s non-resident ambassador to the Philippines Olexander Nechytaylo said Russia “violated” the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) in Southeast Asia when it invaded Ukraine in February 24, 2022.
Nechtaylo, who is based in Kuala Lumpur, said he has raised this with the Malaysian Foreign Ministry and plans to relay the same when he meets Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.
“[N]on-interference, peaceful coexistence, that’s exactly opposite to what Russia is doing in Ukraine. They’ve been always interfering in our internal affairs, and now they invaded us openly on full-scale,” the Ukrainian envoy said in an interview with diplomatic reporters.
Russia became Asean’s dialogue partner in 1994. Eight years later, Russia signed the Asean’s TAC accession agreement. The TAC is a legally binding code for inter-state relations of Asean with other countries. It embodies universal principles of peaceful coexistence and friendly cooperation among nations in Southeast Asia.
“Russia has to be suspended, and it also has to be…[the] message from the Asean leaders, as long as this war continues, Russia should not be part of Apec, it should not be part of Asean, it should not be part of ASEM and any other international organizations because the action in Ukraine shows that they blatantly disregard the international law,” he added.
Russia is also a member of Apec and ASEM, where Asean plays a central role.
“We believe it’s important to isolate Russia internationally. Russia should not be part of Asean strategic partnership anymore,” Nechytaylo said.
When asked about the reply of the Asean members, Nechytaylo said some members “took note” of this request.
Asean leaders are set to meet US President Joe Biden this week in Washington, D.C. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the biggest war in Europe since World War II, is expected to be in the agenda.
Asean members are divided on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In two statements issued in February and March, Asean foreign ministers stopped short of criticizing Russia for the war and only went as far as expressing “deep concern” with the ongoing crisis and calling for an immediate ceasefire.
Asean members voted individually in two separate United Nations resolutions. During the special session of UN General Assembly, eight Asean members—Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand—supported the resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Two other Asean members —Laos and Vietnam—abstained.
On the other hand, only two Asean members—the Philippines and Singapore—voted to suspend the rights of membership in the UN Human Rights Council. Laos voted against it, while six others—Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand abstained.
Nechtaylo said he is “happy” with the Philippine government position in those two UN resolutions, notwithstanding the fact that President Duterte has declared Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “close friend.”
He also thanked the Philippines for its willingness to take in Ukrainian refugees and its commitment to contribute $100,000 to the humanitarian efforts in Ukraine.