The view that Russia is in the wrong hasn’t changed: PM Lee on G20 leaders’ condemnation of Ukraine War


The G20 Bali Leaders’ Declaration strongly condemns Russia’s war on Ukraine. For Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, this clear stance is necessary.

“That view that Russia is in the wrong has not changed,” said PM Lee at the G20 summit this Wednesday (Nov 2).

The Declaration additionally demands Russia’s “complete and unconditional withdrawal” from Ukraine.

“Most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine and stressed it is causing immense human suffering and exacerbating existing fragilities in the global economy — constraining growth, increasing inflation, disrupting supply chains, heightening energy and food insecurity, and elevating financial stability risks,” states the Declaration of the G20 discussions leading to its issue.  

“If we had not said those statements, or if we had not been able to put those statements into the communique, I think it would have been a weakening of our moral case,” said PM Lee about the Declaration.

“And a weakening of the pressure which is necessary to be brought to bear on a country which has transgressed against international norms and undermined the UN Charter,” he added.

Unprovoked military invasion is unacceptable

PM Lee’s latest remarks underscore how consistent Singapore has been on the war.

In March this year, the Government swiftly imposed sanctions on weapons and cyber equipment to Russia two weeks after the war’s start, as well as banning bank activities which could benefit Russia’s government.  

“Singapore is a staunch supporter of international law and the UN Charter, which prohibits acts of aggression against a sovereign state,” said PM Lee during a joint press conference at the Oval Office with United States (US) President Joe Biden in March this year.

“And that is why we have strongly condemned the unprovoked attack by Russia on Ukraine. The sovereignty, political independence, and territorial integrity of all countries, big and small, must be respected.”

“The unprovoked military invasion of a sovereign country under any pretext is unacceptable. We cannot condone any country arguing that another country’s independence is the result of ‘historical errors and crazy decisions’,” PM Lee said at that time.

PM Lee, during his US visit, also called for “all parties to allow safe and unfettered passage of civilians” involved in the war’s humanitarian crisis.    

Might is NOT right

And what of Singaporeans at home, for whom experience of the war is at best second-hand?

“As far as Singaporeans are concerned, we should know this is a troubled world. We watch the developments day-to-day. They can affect us,” explained PM Lee at the G20.

“What happens in Ukraine is already affecting us in terms of inflation: the cost of energy, the cost of food, and the preoccupation with security issues.”

“And if there’s a conflict in our part of the world, or problems between US and China, that will most definitely affect us,” he added.

The Ukraine war remains a stark reminder to Singapore that we should never ever take our sovereignty and independence for granted. And unless we can defend our land, we will be held ransom by the geo-strategic contests of other larger nations.

So Singaporeans need to be prepared psychologically. We need to stay united even especially while we move forward through these troubled times.

This, notes, with leaders who treat citizens and world leaders alike — with integrity, honour and open dialogue.

Because, as PM Lee’s consistently stated, when it comes to international relations, might is not right.

Cover photo credit: MCI