June 15, 2023
PHNOM PENH – Prime Minister Hun Sen said it is unlikely that Ukraine will be able to re-conquer the territory it has lost to Russia by force alone, even with the large deliveries of weapons it has received from the US and other western powers.
The premier shared his thoughts on the current Ukraine situation as he addressed nearly 20,000 workers from nine factories in the capital’s Por Sen Chey district on June 14.
“I do not believe that Ukraine can take back its Russian-occupied territory by force alone,” he said.
He recalled that during his second phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in late May, the embattled leader replied with a yes when asked if he planned to take back all of the occupied territories.
Hun Sen pointed out that he had not encouraged Ukraine’s counterattacks, suggesting that Zelenskyy look for alternative solutions.
He noted that while no one could stop Ukraine from launching its current counterattacks on Russia, more fighting would not end the war, expressing doubts that Russia would voluntarily surrender its occupied territory, especially Donbas and Crimea.
“I don’t think it matters how many weapons the US and the West deliver, it will be impossible to win, as Russia has a large army. Heavier fighting will only result in more deaths on both sides, and that is all,” he said.
Yang Peou, secretary-general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, echoed Hun Sen’s remarks, saying that Ukraine is unlikely to defeat Russia and take back its lost territory. He opined that negotiations between the US and Russia – rather than between Ukraine and Russia – are necessary as the war is the result of geopolitical competition between the superpowers.
“Russia cannot voluntarily surrender or return the occupied land to Ukraine, as it would lose prestige as a global military power. For over a year, Ukraine has received substantial assistance from the NATO countries and the US, but is still unable to defeat Russia. The war has done more damage to Ukraine, with countless people killed and towns and cities destroyed,” he told The Post on June 14.
“This problem will not be solved until the US and Russia conduct honest negotiations with one another. I have repeatedly described this as a proxy war. Until the superpowers negotiate with one another, the war will continue,” he added.
During his phone call with Zelenskyy, Hun Sen underscored the importance of seeking a dialogue to bring an end to the war and the sufferings of the Ukrainian people.
He also reiterated Cambodia’s “principled position” regarding the ongoing armed conflict, saying that the Kingdom strictly adheres to the UN Charter and international laws.
Zelenskyy offered his appreciation to Cambodia for its support for Ukraine’s bid to become an ASEAN Sectoral Dialogue Partner, after it signed the Instrument of Accession to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) in Phnom Penh during the 2022 ASEAN Summit hosted by the Kingdom.