March 1, 2022
SINGAPORE – Singapore will impose export controls on items that can be used directly as weapons in Ukraine to inflict harm or to subjugate the Ukrainians, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan told Parliament on Monday (Feb 28).
It will also block certain Russian banks and financial transactions connected to Russia, he added in a ministerial statement on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Specific measures are being worked out, and these sanctions will be announced shortly, the minister added.
“We continue to value our good relations with Russia and the Russian people. However, we cannot accept such violations of sovereignty and territorial integrity of another sovereign state,” Dr Balakrishnan said.
“We will continue to work with our Asean and international partners to take a strong stance against the invasion of Ukraine and to end further violence and bloodshed, and to de-escalate tensions.”
Russia invaded neighbouring Ukraine on Feb 24 after months of tensions at the border – amassing troops and conducting military exercises. Its actions have been widely condemned by countries around the world.
Dr Balakrishnan noted that Singapore was one of 82 co-sponsors of a recent United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. The resolution was not passed as Russia – a permanent member of the council – vetoed it.
The resolution was supported by 11 of the 15 council members, with China, India and the United Arab Emirates abstaining.
A similar resolution will be debated by the UN General Assembly later on Monday (Feb 28).
“Singapore has always complied fully with sanctions and decisions of the United Nations Security Council. But we have rarely acted to impose sanctions on other countries in the absence of binding Security Council decisions or directions,” said Dr Balakrishnan.
“However, given the unprecedented gravity of the Russian attack on Ukraine, and the unsurprising veto by Russia of a draft Security Council resolution, Singapore intends to act in concert with many other like-minded countries to impose appropriate sanctions and restrictions against Russia.”
Dr Balakrishnan added: “We must expect that our measures will come at some cost and implications on our businesses, citizens and, indeed, to Singapore. However, unless we as a country stand up for principles that are the very foundation for the independence and sovereignty of smaller nations, our own right to exist and prosper as a nation may similarly be called into question one day.”
After the minister’s speech, Mr Gerald Giam (Aljunied GRC) asked how Singapore can maintain its interests with all parties involved, from the United States to Ukraine, Russia and other countries in Europe, given recent events.
Dr Balakrishnan reiterated that Singapore does not take sides, but upholds principles. “And in this case, the principles at stake are independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity.”
The Republic’s foreign policy is consistent, coherent, and “almost always predictable”, he added, noting that since he became foreign minister seven years ago, he has had to say no on occasion to every superpower.
“But it has not stopped us from being able to sit at the table, look at each other’s eyes, shake hands, explain where and why we differ, and at the same time, pursue areas of cooperation where our interests align and where our principles are shared,” Dr Balakrishnan said.
“This is not a new posture. This, in fact, is a posture that we have adopted for every single year since we’ve been independent, and I am maintaining that tradition.”
Ms Denise Phua (Jalan Besar GRC) asked whether the Government would review ongoing projects and initiatives with the Russian government.
Dr Balakrishnan said details of the sanctions are still being worked out, but added that Singapore has “no quarrel” with the Russian people.
Noting that Ms Phua was indirectly alluding to the Russian Cultural Centre here, which would also house a Russian Orthodox Church, he said: “I would imagine that this is a project which, in my own view, should continue, because this goes beyond the politics and the conflict which is going on right now.”
Get live updates as the Ukraine crisis unfolds.
Watch Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan’s full speech in Parliament: