Prime Minister Hun Sen has dismissed claims that Cambodia is a supplier of military aid to Ukraine, stating that the Kingdom has no ability to deliver such aid but would welcome any country wishing to learn how to clear landmines to send their officers here for training.
The rejection came after Cambodia was classified under the category of “military supporter of Ukraine” in an infographic originating from the Telegram channel “Demografiya Upala”. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation issued a January 24 statement dismissing the contents of the infographic as categorically false.
“We did not deliver military aid to Ukraine. We have no ability to deliver military aid to Ukraine. Cambodia’s help training Ukrainain deminers is purely humanitarian work. Please don’t confuse this training with military assistance,” Hun Sen said while addressing a graduation ceremony for over 3,000 students from Western University (WU) in Phnom Penh on January 26.
The premier said Cambodia has often sent troops to clear landmines overseas to contribute to safeguarding world peace under the UN umbrella. For the time being, the Kingdom has UN peacekeepers stationed in four countries: Mali, South Sudan, Lebanon and the Central African Republic (CAR). Previously, Cambodia also sent personnel to aid efforts to demine Syria, Chad and Cyprus.
He also noted that the Kingdom has helped deminers from Colombia and some other countries with training as the ASEAN Regional Mine Action Centre is based in Cambodia.
“Any country that wants to come and learn how to demine, including Russia, please come. We will help all of them with this training,” he emphasised.
Thong Mengdavid, a research fellow at the Asian Vision Institute’s Mekong Centre for Strategic Studies, said the inclusion of Cambodia on a list of Ukraine’s military supporters was seriously mistaken as it has always abided by international principles and laws to maintain peace in the region and the world and does not support the use of armed conflict as a means to solve any conflicts.
“Sending skilled agents to demine in Ukraine is a purely humanitarian work. This shows the heart and commitment of Cambodians who want to help the Ukrainian people and make them safe from the hazards from remnants of war that we have already gone through,” he reiterated.
“Cambodia clearly understands the value of peace. So, the allegation is baseless; it is either meant to tarnish Cambodia’s reputation and affect its relations with Russia or is rooted in pure ignorance and a lack of journalistic professionalism,” he continued.
Recently, Cambodia ran a one-week training course for Ukrainian officers on demining with the participation of the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC), Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
Hun Sen said that removing landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXOs) is a necessary task that must be done everywhere in the world where they are found. It has taken Cambodia over 30 years to clear mines, with the Kingdom setting a clear goal of becoming a mine-free nation by 2025.