PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has urged Southeast Asian countries to secure political and material support in his country’s fight against Russiawhile accusing Moscow on Saturday of playing “hunger games” with the world by blocking shipments of Ukrainian grain and other agricultural products.
Kuleba told reporters on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit that with a deal allowing Ukraine to export grain and fertilizers set to expire on Nov. 19, the world was expected to pressure Russia not to oppose its extension, saying Ukrainian products were essential in Africa and Asia.
However, more than just pursuing the deal, Kuleba accused Russian inspectors of “quiet sabotage”, saying they were intentionally dragging their feet in allowing shipments through.
Not only must Russia “continue to be part of the initiative, but it must also ask its inspectors to act in good faith and avoid any measure, any step, which creates obstacles and hinders the export of products Ukrainian agricultural products to the world market,” he said.
“Russia should – must – stop playing hunger games with the world.”
Kuleba country was invited to ASEAN summit for the first time this year and signed a peace deal with the group of nations with a combined population of almost 700 million people.
Many member countries have so far been reserved in their stance towards the invasion, condemning the war but generally trying to avoid assigning blame. Eight of the 10 ASEAN countries voted in favor of the UN General Assembly resolution condemning Russian aggression, with Vietnam and Laos abstaining.
Kuleba said the signing of the ASEAN agreement was a strong message of support from the group, while adding that “the litmus test is the … vote in the UN General Assembly for resolutions relating to to Ukraine”.
ASEAN is made up of Cambodia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Laos, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Brunei and Myanmar, although Myanmar rulers are not allowed to attend ongoing meetings due to ongoing violence in the country. and its lack of effort in implementing the group’s peace plan after the 2021 military coup.
Kuleba said he was using the occasion of the Phnom Penh summit as “an Asian tour”, meeting with ASEAN members and non-members like Australia to plead for more political support, aid equipment – such as transformers and generators to repair those destroyed in the fighting – and improved food security and trade.
He spoke the day US President Joe Biden arrived at the talks and met Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the sidelines.
Blinken applauded Kuleba’s efforts to continue providing aid, assuring him that “support is strong around the world” for Ukraine.
Kuleba said it seemed “symbolic” that he signed a strategic partnership with the United States exactly one year before the ASEAN deal.
“It shows how far we have come after consolidating our position as a country belonging to the West,” Kuleba said, according to a copy of his remarks provided by the US State Department.
At his previous press conference, Kuleba said he had hoped to meet the Chinese foreign minister, but was told he would not be present. Kuleba added that Ukraine was maintaining a dialogue with China to push Beijing to “use its influence on Russia to make it stop the war”. ”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was also present at ASEAN meetings, and Kuelba said that if Lavrov asked to meet him he would be ready to consider the request, but so far accused Russia to use the talks as a “smokescreen for his continued aggression on the pitch.”
“Ukraine will win, it’s only a matter of time and price,” he said. “And yes, some gains are made militarily, but some of Ukraine’s gains will be made diplomatically.”
But, he said, in all discussions, “the territorial integrity of Ukraine is not something that can be discussed.”
In brief opening remarks as he sat down to meet ASEAN leaders, Biden said he was ready to discuss with them “Russia’s brutal war on Ukraine and our efforts to address the global impacts of the war, including in Southeast Asia”.
Earlier, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he had made it clear to summit participants that it was important to establish the conditions for a resumption of dialogue between Ukraine and Russia, and ” gradually begin to envision a future where peace will prevail”.
“Not just any kind of peace,” said António Guterres. “A peace based on the values of the Charter of the United Nations and a peace based on international law.
In other comments, Guterres said the world had failed Myanmar and expressed hope that ASEAN would be able to pressure the member state to comply with its peace plan in next year.
ASEAN leaders agreed on a plan on Friday this largely requires Indonesia, when it takes over the group’s rotating presidency in 2023, to develop measurable indicators and a timetable for Myanmar to implement the so-called Five-Point Consensus for Peace.
Indonesia has been one of the ASEAN countries that has most openly expressed the need to do more to resolve the situation in Myanmar, and Guterres told reporters that he believes “the Indonesian government will be able to to move the agenda forward in a positive way”.
ASEAN’s decision announced on Friday includes asking the UN and other “external partners” for help to support the group’s efforts. Guterres said he hoped UN special envoy for Myanmar Noeleen Heyzer would work closely with his ASEAN counterpart to end “dramatic human rights abuses” in the country.
“Everyone has failed when it comes to Myanmar,” said António Guterres. “The international community as a whole has failed, and the UN is part of the international community.”
ASEAN peace plan calls for immediate cessation of violence, dialogue between all parties, mediation by ASEAN special envoy, provision of humanitarian aid and visit in Myanmar of the special envoy to meet with all the parties.
Myanmar’s military-led government initially agreed to the plan, but made little effort to implement it.
Rising reported from Bangkok.