February 24, 2023
JAKARTA – On the first anniversary of the war in Ukraine, United Nations member states are preparing to vote in a set of resolutions that call for “just and lasting peace” in hopes of preserving Ukraine’s sovereignty and holding Russia accountable.
Indonesia is geographically worlds apart but has nevertheless felt the ripples of the war and the ensuing host of crises. It is now facing pressure to back the motion favored by Kyiv while it maintains good ties with Moscow.
During a visit to Jakarta this earlier week, the chairman of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET), David McAllister, expressed hope that Indonesia would take part in the upcoming vote in New York, having noted that it backed three previous UN resolutions condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022.
“I hope that Indonesia will join the EU countries and many others in support of the United Nations resolution that will be voted on in New York tomorrow,” McAllister told a press conference in the Indonesian capital on Wednesday.
The German politician told reporters that the war in Ukraine had consequences felt around the globe, especially as regards energy and food, but was also a “blatant violation of the United Nations Charter and international rules-based world order”.
“Acquiring territory by force should be a matter of deep concern for our ASEAN partners, as it is a frontal attack to the most fundamental international rules,” he told reporters.
Indonesia voted for the UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolutions ES-11/1 on March 2, ES-11/2 on March 24 and ES-11/4 on Oct. 12 last year. The first resolution demanded Russia to cease its use of force in Ukraine, the second demanded an immediate halt to the war, and the third declared as illegal Russia’s referendums in and subsequent annexations of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia.
McAllister’s statement was part of a broader international push to shore up support for the next UNGA resolution, put forward by Ukraine and its allies.
In a statement made in Poland ahead of the vote, United States President Joe Biden and the heads of eastern European countries vowed to strengthen defenses “from the Baltic to the Black Sea”.
“We cannot allow Russia to continue to chip away at European security,” NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said after a meeting with Biden and European leaders on Wednesday, AFP reported.
Meanwhile, at a special UNGA session in New York on Wednesday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba asked UN member states to stand by his country.
“I appeal to you: This is a decisive moment to show support, unity and solidarity,” Kuleba said.
For Indonesia, the war in Ukraine marked its Group of 20 presidency last year, including attempts by allied Western nations to kick Russia out of the group of largest economies, as well as several staged walkouts that complicated achieving its presidency’s priority agenda.
Indonesia’s message remained the same throughout, appealing to both Russia and Ukraine to immediately stop the war, with neither party indicating any qualms about Indonesia’s stance.
Russian Ambassador to Indonesia Lyudmila Vorobieva told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday that Moscow appreciated Indonesia’s foreign policy stance on the matter, calling it “balanced and constructive”.
“During its G20 presidency, despite pressures, Indonesia has insisted on including Russia in all of the events,” Vorobieva said. “Thanks to the effort of Indonesian diplomacy, a final declaration was issued and Russia was not excluded.”
Separately, Ukrainian Ambassador to Indonesia Vasyl Hamianin spoke to the Post on Wednesday, saying that Kyiv respected the government’s stance and would not “criticize any decision of your country”.
“I can only say that Ukraine now is defending global democratic values, and any democratic country that really respects these values, such as the rule of law, the United Nations Charter and territorial integrity, might take a decision to stand on the side of democracy, humanity and justice,” Hamianin said.
He also said President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s visit to Kyiv last year was a brave and historical decision, noting that he remained the only Asian leader to visit his country since the war began.
Indonesia has taken a neutral stance to the war in Ukraine, pressuring Russia only regarding matters in which it was clearly at fault, such as excessive use of violence and violations of territorial integrity and international law.
Conversely, although several UN resolutions that Indonesia backed last year criticized Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Jakarta has always steered clear of proposals intent on isolating or imposing sanctions on Moscow.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah said on Wednesday that Indonesia’s position on the war remained unchanged, in that it was continuing to call for the warring sides to stop and seek out a peaceful solution through negotiations.
“This is what we have always expressed on many occasions, by the foreign minister and including by our President,” Faizasyah told the Post.
Asked about the upcoming UNGA resolution vote on the one-year anniversary of the war, he replied that foreign ministry officials in Jakarta and the Indonesian Mission to the UN in New York were still consulting on the matter.
The war in Ukraine has disrupted global food supply chains and stoked shortages in Ukrainian and Russian commodities, including the wheat used in Indonesia’s instant noodle products. The shortage in sunflower oil has also increased the prices of palm oil alternatives and subsequently spurred panic buying in Indonesia as well as other countries.