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Cambodia joins UN in resolution on Russia

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A general view shows voting results during a UN General Assembly emergency meeting to discuss Russian annexations in Ukraine at the UN headquarters in New York City on October 12, 2022. AFP

Cambodia joins UN in resolution on Russia

Cambodia has maintained its firm stance against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, joining 142 other nations to co-sponsor a new UN resolution condemning Moscow’s annexation of four Ukrainian regions.

The UN General Assembly (UNGA) on October 12 passed a resolution against the annexation, with 143 countries co-sponsoring it while 35 states including Laos, Thailand and Vietnam abstained from the vote.

Only five countries voted no on the resolution: Russia itself, Belarus, North Korea, Syria and Nicaragua.

The UN resolution came after the Kremlin announced the annexation of four Ukrainian regions that its armed forces currently occupy and control portions of, declaring Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson to be part of Russia.

This is not the first time that Cambodia has shown strong opposition to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine since the war began on February 24 of this year. Prime Minister Hun Sen has stated on several occasions that the Kingdom is against territorial separation or the use of force and threats to take territory from other countries.

“Cambodia demonstrated principled leadership as ASEAN chair in co-sponsoring this historic UN resolution,” said US ambassador to Cambodia W Patrick Murphy. “The world is united in defending Ukraine’s territorial integrity and condemning Russia’s violations of the UN Charter.”

Just a day before the vote, Hun Sen reiterated that it was wrong of Russia to annex the four regions.

“Now, it is the 21st century, but still there is a country that is invading the territory of others. It is not right to do so. If our neighbours did that to us, would we get angry? We must stand for the principle of law,” he said.

Domenic Williams, the new UK ambassador to Cambodia, also expressed words of appreciation for Cambodia’s bold decision that breaks with its neighbours and is critical of a traditional ally, Russia.

“Thank you to Prime Minister Hun Sen and Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn for co-sponsoring and supporting this crucial UN General Assembly Resolution to condemn Russia’s violations of the UN Charter,” he tweeted.

Political analyst Em Sovannara said Cambodia’s decision was based on its respect for and belief in the UN Charter.

He said that had Cambodia not stood with the UN Charter, it might have no protections or recourse to requests for international help should it be invaded by some other country.

Sovannara cautioned, however, that co-sponsoring the resolution is not without potential repercussions, especially in relation to the upcoming November ASEAN Summit to be hosted by Cambodia as ASEAN chair. He said it may exacerbate tensions during the summit when world leaders from the major powers such as the US, China and Russia are all expected to attend the historic event in Phnom Penh.

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