Minister of Defence Tea Banh yesterday denied allegations that Cambodia supported Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
Local media reported yesterday that during a meeting with the defence minister on Monday, Russian Ambassador Dmitry Tsvetkov thanked the Kingdom for supporting Moscow in the recent secession crisis in Ukraine and offered to convert Cambodian debt to the federation to aid money.
Banh denied taking sides on the Ukraine issue during Monday’s meeting, telling the Post that it is out of Cambodia’s depth to get involved in the ongoing dispute.
“Ukraine is their issue not our issue,” he said. “We do not say whether we support them or not, and do not judge if what they are doing is right or wrong.”
Banh also said that while he met with the ambassador to discuss bilateral military cooperation and the $1.5 billion in unsettled loans Cambodia borrowed in the 1980s, no decisions had been made on how to address the issue and it would require further discussion among “experts”.
Cambodia has made several attempts to cancel the debt, which also came up in a recent meeting between Tsvetkov and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong, to no avail. Several lawmakers and analysts have maintained that Cambodia does not need to repay the loans, as the money was borrowed from Moscow under the Soviet Union, and not Russia.
Officials at the Russian Embassy in Phnom Penh were not available for comment yesterday as the office was closed for a holiday.