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Tuesday, November 29, 2022
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DR BALAKRISHNAN ON IF S’POREANS CAN FIGHT IN UKRAINE – YOUR DUTY IS TO S’PORE

Singapore’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan was asked a number of questions after his speech in parliament earlier today (28 February), on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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He was asked if the Singapore government will object to Singaporeans who want to volunteer to join the foreign legion to fight against the Russian invaders, for the Ukrainians.

This comes on the heels of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky appealing to foreigners to join him in fighting the Russian invaders on 27 February, adding that a foreign legion unit is being set up for these foreign volunteers, by the Ukrainian armed forces.

Easy for small countries to be caught up in geopolitical games of big powers

Dr Balakrishnan said that small countries like Singapore must avoid becoming sacrificial pawns to be used by one side against the other, and that it is important for us to have positive relations with our neighbours as well as the big powers.

He said:

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Small countries must avoid becoming sacrificial pawns, vassal states, or cat’s paws to be used by one side against the other

When situations arise, our assessments and our actions are based on clearly enunciated and consistently held principles that are in our own long term national interests, instead of choosing sides

Your duty is to Singapore and our national interests

On the question of whether the government will object to Singaporeans volunteering to join the foreign legion to fight against the Russians, Dr Balakrishnan responded by saying that Singapore doesn’t take sides and will uphold principles, adding that we do not allow the import of foreign politics into our environment.

He reminded Singaporeans that their duty is to Singapore and its national interests, adding that regardless of the justification, Singapore cannot support the promotion or organisation of armed groups into other countries.

Dr Balakrishnan said:

about the foreign legion, again, I will have to come back to principle. Singapore does not take sides. Singapore does not allow the import of foreign politics into Singapore’s domestic environment.

Similarly, Singapore cannot support the promotion or organisation of armed groups, whatever their justification, into other countries, so our long standing rules and regulatory system must continue to apply.

So, Singapore citizens, your duty is to Singapore. To fight and die if need be, to defend our national interests and to take a long term view of what our national interests are. So I would leave it at that.”

Unprovoked military invasion

Dr Balakrishnan shared a snippet of his ministerial statement on the conflict in Parliament, onto his Facebook.

He wrote:

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We are witnessing an unprovoked military invasion of a sovereign State.

This is an existential issue for us. A world order based on “might is right”, or where “the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must”, would be profoundly inimical to the security and survival of small states.

The sovereignty, political independence and 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.

This is why Singapore has strongly condemned Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine.

Full transcript: go.gov.sg/20220228ministerialstatement

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