Commentary on Political Economy

Monday 28 February 2022

 Singapore breaks ranks to join Russia sanctions

Emma Connors

Emma ConnorsSouth-east Asia correspondent

Feb 28, 2022 – 9.27pm



Singapore | Citing the need to back a fellow ‘vulnerable country’, Singapore has become the first country in the ASEAN bloc to sign on to the sanctions and export controls the international community hopes will check Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Whilst Ukraine is far away from us, we are following the crisis with grave concern,” Singapore’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan told parliament on Monday.

Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Foreign Affairs for Singapore, addressing the United Nations in 2016, Seth Wenig

“The invasion of Ukraine demonstrates how quickly a vulnerable country can be overrun, especially when confronting a larger and more powerful opponent. This is the acute reality for all small countries, and Singapore is no exception,” Dr Balakrishnan said.

Singapore has always complied with sanctions and decisions of the UN Security Council, but has rarely acted to impose sanctions on other countries in the absence of such decisions. Dr Balakrishnan said the “unprecedented gravity of the Russian attack on Ukraine, and the unsurprising veto by Russia of a draft Security Council resolution,” has prompted a change in that policy.

“Singapore intends to act in concert with many other like-minded countries to impose appropriate sanctions and restrictions against Russia. In particular, we will impose export controls on items that can be used directly as weapons in Ukraine to inflict harm or to subjugate the Ukrainians.

“We will also block certain Russian banks and financial transactions connected to Russia. The specific measures are being worked out and will be announced shortly,” Dr Balakrishnan said.



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Singapore is the first of the 10 member nations of the Association of South East Asian Nations to join the sanctions push.

It’s understood the US has consulted Singapore, along with Taiwan and Japan on export controls. The three Asian countries are major producers of advanced technology goods including semiconductors and computer chips that Russia – along with the rest of the world – relies upon.

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