Thailand has confirmed its neutrality in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, saying it remains committed to a balanced foreign policy that is in the country’s best interests.
Government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana clarified the government’s stance on the Russia-Ukraine situation on Thursday, saying that since the start of the conflict, Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had laid down a policy of supporting dialogue to find a peaceful resolution in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter.
Evacuating Thais out of Ukraine has been a top priority and it has been carried out successfully, he said.
As a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Thailand has also made its position clear via a statement by the bloc’s foreign ministers calling on all parties to exercise maximum restraint and make the utmost effort to pursue dialogue through all channels to de-escalate tension.
Given the threat posed by COVID-19, Thailand does not want to see any international conflict and tension to compound the public health crisis, and strongly believes a solution to the conflict can be achieved through peaceful means, Mr Wangboonkongchana said.
Tanee Sangrat, spokesman of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, said the ministry has approved 2 million baht for humanitarian aid to Ukraine, after it received a request for help from the Ukrainian embassy in Bangkok.
Mr Sangrat said the donation will be sent to the Thai embassy in the Polish capital Warsaw, which borders Ukraine.
The money will be used to buy daily necessities for people in Ukraine affected by the fighting. The items will be handed out via the Ukrainian Red Cross Society or other international organisations, he said.
This marks the government’s second humanitarian donation to Ukraine. The first donation worth 1 million baht was made back in 2019 to assist in procuring humanitarian and medical relief for people displaced in the country’s eastern region. That donation was made via the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Thai Red Cross Society, Mr Sangrat said.
Pairoj Chotikasathien, director-general of the Department of Employment, said he has ordered a delay on any Thai workers planning to go to Russia.
There are currently 441 Thai workers in the country, with some paying for travel expenses out of their own pocket, Mr Chotikasathien said. Most of them are spa workers or massage therapists.
“Travelling to work in Russia is dangerous so Thai workers must wait until the situation eases,” he said.
He said Russia has closed its airspace to European Union countries and their allies that have imposed sanctions on it.
Therefore, commercial flights from those countries to Asia have to be rerouted, leading to longer travel times and higher ticket prices, he added.
Reuters reported that the Kremlin said on Thursday it would seek information from the Russian military after Ukraine accused Russia of bombing a children’s hospital in the besieged city of Mariupol.
“We will definitely ask our military, because you and I don’t have clear information about what happened there,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a briefing. “And the military is very likely to provide some information.”
Mr Peskov also told reporters that Ukraine keeps proposing talks between President Volodymyr Zelensky and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
“Kyiv is constantly making such offers to us,” he said, adding that so far contacts have been elevated to foreign minister-level — Ukraine’s Dmytro Kuleba and Russia’s Sergei Lavrov were meeting in Turkey as he spoke.
“Let us wait for the results and see what they agree on,” Mr Peskov said.