SINGAPORE — The world must expand sanctions against Russia in order to cripple its ability to wage war, said Ukraine’s ambassador to Singapore Kateryna Zelenko on Friday (3 June).
Speaking at a virtual conference in Singapore, Zelenko was giving an update on the 100th day of the war since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on 24 February.
“The country must be economically and politically isolated from the world…Sanctions against Russia must be strengthened and expanded…The world has to stop buying Russian commodities, most notably oil and gas, which continue to finance this war against Ukraine,” Zelenko said.
Russia’s invasion has triggered a wave of condemnations around the world and financial sanctions imposed against the Kremlin and its allies.
Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan on 28 February announced that the city-state would impose export controls on items that can be used directly as weapons in Ukraine, as well as certain financial sanctions on Russia, given the "unprecedented gravity" of the Russian attack. Singapore would block certain Russian banks and financial transactions connected to Moscow, he added.
Referring to the strong statements delivered by Singapore’s government, Zelenko said, “The fact that Singapore imposed sanctions on the Russian Federation, like export controls, like limitation of the financial operations with several Russian banks – this is the step we value and we appreciate greatly.”
The ambassador also noted that the European Union has agreed to adopt the sixth package of sanctions covering crude oil and petroleum products, with a temporary exception for crude oil delivered by pipeline.
“As soon as the sanctions package is imposed, the work on the seventh one should start because we see that sanctions work. In 2022, Russia's GDP has moved from 5.6 per cent growth in January to 3 per cent decrease in April. The legal way to confiscate Russia's frozen foreign exchange reserves and assets has to be found,” Zelenko said.
Calling for more financial support around the world, Zelenko pointed out that the war has caused between US$564 billion to US$600 billion indirect and direct economic losses to Ukraine, while the total amount of direct losses from damage and destruction of residential and non-residential buildings and infrastructure reached US$105.5 billion as of today.
Singapore voted alongside 140 other countries for a resolution to condemn Russia’s aggression against Ukraine during an emergency session in the United Nations (UN) on 2 March. Five countries voted against the resolution while 35 abstained.
With no sign of a reversal of Russia’s invasion, the emergency session reconvened on 24 March to vote on a resolution reiterating the UN’s demand that Russia withdraw from Ukraine and deploring the attacks on Ukraine’s civilian population and infrastructure. Singapore voted in favour of the resolution alongside 139 other countries while five countries voted against it and 38 abstained.
Due to the seismic disruption in Europe’s security environment, Finland and Sweden applied last month to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), citing Russia’s blatant invasion of Ukraine.
When asked about the applications by Finland and Sweden, Zelenko said they can only strengthen the alliance. Noting Russia’s mixed signals about the issue, Zelenko said the aspiration by the Nordic countries to join NATO is a sign that the developed countries in Europe feel safer to be part of the alliance to nullify Russian aggression.
Call for more weapons to Ukraine
The Russians have committed looting, tortures, wilful killings, widespread abductions, and violated the norms of international humanitarian law in the war, according to Zelenko. Their aim is to occupy the entire territory of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, secure the land corridor to Crimea, and complete the occupation of southern Ukraine, she said.
Ukrainian law enforcement agencies have started investigations into more than 15,000 war crimes and crimes of aggression committed by Russian forces since 24 February, Zelenko said. "We welcome all steps made by the international institutions to bring Russia to justice, as well as statements made by the heads of state and governments throughout the world."
At the same time, Zelenko pointed out that Russia has suffered huge military losses arising from its aggression. According to data that she presented at the conference, Russia had lost more 30,000 Russian military personnel, more than 3,000 armoured personnel vehicles, more than 1,300 tanks, 210 aircraft and others as of Thursday.
Around 20 per cent of Ukraine's territories have been lost to Russia as of today, Zelenko said. But 82 per cent of Ukrainians would not agree to cede territories in exchange for peace, she added. "Ceasefire in itself cannot be an objective. We will strive for the withdrawal of Russian troops and Ukraine has to liberate its territories based on the principle of maximum preservation of people's lives."
As the situation in the Donbas region will only get worse, and Russia will be emboldened to intensify its aggression, Zelenko urged the international community to provide Ukraine with more weapons, ranging from artillery to multiple launch rocket systems, and help it turn the tide of the war.
Calling such aid as "the best investment" in maintaining stability in the world and preventing many severe crises originating from Russia. she said, "In order to win (the war), freedom must be armed better than tyranny."
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