Mr Lee also said that sanctions mark a “big step” to take for a small country like Singapore, and the hurdle is even “higher” for the country to impose sanctions on its own.
“But in this case because it is such an egregious, flagrant and major violation of the international norms and with such a major consequence for the global order, including in our region, we decided we had to act on sanctions because the UN could not act,” he said.
“The UN obviously cannot act, because you need the Security Council. The Russians are there; they have a veto (and) it is not going to pass,” added the Prime Minister. “But we had to stand up and be counted and we did.”
WHAT IT MEANS FOR SINGAPORE
The war in Ukraine, which started on Feb 24, is “not over” and that both sides of the conflict are not close to reaching an arrangement that would bring about peace yet, Mr Lee said.
“And I believe that military struggle will continue,” he added.
What the crisis means for a small country like Singapore is the need to build up the country’s own defences and be well-equipped.
But most importantly, said the Prime Minister, is the will to fight for one’s home.
“This is my home, I am going to fight for it (and) if necessary, I’m willing to die for it,” he said. “And it is that will to defend what is yours and to defend your family and friends that keeps the Ukrainians going, and that Singaporeans must have if we are going to keep ourselves safe in this world.”
At the same time, Singapore will have to look at what is happening in the region and how other countries are reacting to the crisis.
The Prime Minister also reiterated the need for institutions to be developed in the region that can help “head off a hot conflict like this”, a point that he has made throughout his visit in the US.
There are already platforms that are helpful, such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the East Asia Summit, as well as the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework which is mooted by the US as a way to engage the region.
“Basically, ways to bring countries in the region together to expand their areas of cooperation and interdependence and at the same time, to provide a forum to talk about quite difficult issues, so that we can head them off before they become impossible to manage,” Mr Lee told reporters.
“We are doing our part to encourage that, but that is something which requires many participants and to the extent that we have influence, we try to encourage other countries to go in that direction, which is one of the reasons why I am here in the US.”
Mr Lee noted that the US has been “deeply engaged in the diplomacy and other aspects” of the conflict in Ukraine.
“They can see how things are going but at the same time, they are thinking ahead as to what could possibly be the range of outcomes and how do we manage that. And in particular, how to manage it in relation to China and the US-China relationship,” he said.
Still, the relationship between the two superpowers is “fraught”, Mr Lee said, adding that existing communication channels may not be adequate for “very demanding” discussion topics on hand.
Source: Channel News Asia