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ASEAN urge peace in Ukraine

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Ukrainian refugees arrive at Zahonyi railway station close to the Hungarian-Ukrainian border on Sunday. According to the UN refugee agency, more than 368,000 people had fled Ukraine since Russia began a military offensive on Thursday. AFP

ASEAN urge peace in Ukraine

ASEAN foreign ministers have expressed deep concern over the armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine and urged all parties to show the utmost restraint in order to prevent the situation from escalating.

The ministers also called on the warring states to find a peaceful solution in accordance with international law, the principles of the UN Charter, and the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia.

“We call on all parties concerned to exercise maximum restraint and make every effort to continue dialogue through all means, including diplomatic channels, to prevent the situation from escalating,” the ministers said in a joint statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

The statement said they believe there are still opportunities for peaceful dialogue that have yet to be exhausted.

“For the sustainability of peace, security, stability and harmonious coexistence, it is the responsibility of all parties to uphold the principles of mutual respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and the equal rights of all nations,” it read.

Thong Mengdavid, a research fellow at the Asian Vision Institute’s Mekong Centre for Strategic Studies, said the conflict in Ukraine had arisen as a result of historical factors and geopolitical strategies, with Russia having always considered Ukraine and its people to be part of the Russian Empire.

The use of force, weapons and sanctions cannot solve the problem, he said, adding that it had the opposite effect of causing Ukraine and Russia to plunge into economic crises and create new refugees.

Being sovereign states, the two countries could turn to the negotiating table as well as explore a “diplomatic resolution” with the participation of NATO member countries and the US,” he told The Post.

“ASEAN can also play an important role in coordinating with Russia, as ASEAN is also one of its important trading, economic and strategic partners,” Mengdavid said, adding that ASEAN respects and adheres to the principles of international law and has urged a peaceful solution.

Following a bilateral meeting with Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob on February 24, Prime Minister Hun Sen said they had discussed the situation in Ukraine. He said both sides were eager to see a peaceful solution.

He added that both himself and Ismail Sabri had made it clear that ASEAN needed a “common voice” in order for the bloc to be strong. In order for any statement to be issued, there needs to be a consensus among ASEAN member states.

“As to the events in Ukraine … His Excellency Prime Minister Ismail Sabri and I agreed that dialogue and a peaceful solution were required,” he said.

Foreign ministry spokesman Chum Sounry said that according to information received from the Cambodian Alumni Association in Russia, there are currently no Cambodian students studying in Ukraine, but that 23 former students who had gone to study in the former soviet state in the 1980s and early 1990s continue to live there with their families.

“The ministry and the Cambodian embassy in Russia are working hard to contact all the Cambodian people to obtain information on their situation,” he said.

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