In this year-end roundup series, Petir.sg looks back at key moments of 2022.
“We cannot accept one country attacking another without justification,” Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan stated clearly on Feb 28 in Parliament.
“Such a rationale would go against the internationally-recognised legitimacy and the territorial integrity of many countries, including Singapore.”
Minister Balakrishnan’s speech referred to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine less than a week before that February sitting, which saw Russian troops attacking Ukraine from the north, south and east, with some even reaching Ukraine’s capital Kyiv.
“The sovereignty, the political independence and the territorial integrity of all countries, big and small, must be respected. Singapore must take any violation of these core principles seriously, whenever and wherever they occur,” he said in his ministerial statement.
“This is why Singapore has strongly condemned Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine.”
Humanitarian aid and economic sanctions
Minister Balakrishnan also detailed Singapore’s first response to the situation.
“Singapore is doing our part. The Singapore Red Cross has pledged a contribution of US$100,000 to support communities affected by the current crisis, in cooperation with the Ukrainian Red Cross Society and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. This will provide essential relief supplies such as hygiene kits, family kits and household kits for the vulnerable who have been displaced by the conflict.
“In addition, the Singapore Red Cross has launched a public fundraising appeal to support the impending massive humanitarian operations that will be needed. The Singapore Government will also contribute US$100,000 to this humanitarian operation through the Singapore Red Cross,” he said.
There were sanctions too for Russia.
“We will impose export controls on items that can be used directly as weapons in Ukraine to inflict harm or to subjugate the Ukrainians,” said the Minister.
“We will also block certain Russian banks and financial transactions connected to Russia.”
Sanctions like these from the international community were aimed at making it more difficult for Russia to continue funding its unprovoked aggression.
Singapore’s sanctions are notable in our national context. Singapore rarely imposes sanctions on other countries without binding United Nations Security Council decisions or directions.
But the severity of the attacks, coupled with a draft Security Council resolution vetoing Russia, made our leaders take action.
Might is not right
Minister Balakrishan also underscored why the war is an object lesson for Singapore.
“This is an existential issue for us. Ukraine is much smaller than Russia, but it is much bigger than Singapore,” he pointed out.
“A world order based on ‘might is right’, or where ‘the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must’, such a world order would be profoundly inimical to the security and survival of small states.”
Indeed, we should never take our sovereignty for granted.
Singapore supports an international order based on the rule of law and the United Nations Charter. Our sanctions — problematic for Russia considering our status as a global financial hub — and shrewdly made by a strong PAP Government, show that to be so.
**You can watch the Minister’s full speech here:
Cover photo credit: Ales Ustinov, Pexels