Friday, December 1, 2023 | 23:35 WIB

The Stance of Indonesia on the Russia-Ukraine Conflict

IO – The quiet emerging from Southeast Asia’s capitals after Russian forces marched into Ukraine on February 21 has been difficult to comprehend for a region whose leaders claim a passionate devotion to the ideals of national sovereignty and mutual non-interference. 

According to Teuku Faizasyah, a spokesperson for the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Indonesian government has four perspectives on the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. “First and foremost, Indonesia is worried about the development of the military conflict in Ukraine, which poses a major threat to people’s safety and threatens regional peace,” he stated during a press conference in Jakarta on Thursday (24/2/2022). 

Second, according to Teuku, Indonesia prioritizes adherence with international law and the United Nations Charter addressing a country’s territorial integrity and condemns any activities that plainly represent a breach of a country’s territorial territory and sovereignty. 

“On several times, Indonesia has underlined the importance of a country’s integral territory and the implementation of international law. How do we define a region since this is a concept of respect for a territory’s sovereignty.” Teuku, who also serves as the Director General of Information and Public Diplomacy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, made the comments. 

Indonesia, he said, did not cease attempting to persuade people that peace is the best option. According to Teuku, Indonesia has requested Russia and Ukraine to avoid escalation and address disputes at the negotiation table. 

“Third,” he stated, “reaffirming that all parties continue to emphasize discussions and diplomacy to end crises and favor peaceful settlements.” Fourth, according to Teuku, the Indonesian Embassy has taken the required actions to save Indonesian people in Ukraine in accordance with the planned contingency plan. 

However, the statement utilized what many would consider incorrect wording in referring to the situation as a “conflict.” When one country invades another, the latter’s sovereignty is violated. It’s no longer a question of selecting sides. By referring to this breach as a “conflict,” the aggressor’s true aim is minimized, which is especially true in this situation. 

Lack of Strategic Emphathy 

On February 24, 2022, Indonesian President Joko Widodo turned to Twitter to urge for an end to the conflict. However, he makes no direct mention to Russia in his tweet. “Stop the war. War brings human misery and puts the entire world at danger “his Tweet says. 

Despite considerable condemnation from other nations, it is difficult to understand why the bulk of Southeast Asia has remained reasonably silent. However, there might be a few causes for this inaction. 

The first, and most prominent, is ASEAN’s non-interference principle, which states that member countries should not intervene in the internal affairs of other countries, including fellow ASEAN members. Analysts, on the other hand, argue that this practice is exceedingly unstable and vulnerable to misuse. However, that would necessitate a separate essay describing the hypocrisies of ASEAN’s paradigm. 

We can also consider the fact that the majority of Southeast Asian countries are still labeled as ‘developing.’ This implies they rely significantly on foreign players (from outside the region) to remain afloat and catch up. This entails cultivating diplomatic and economic connections with significantly more powerful countries. 

While Russia’s trade partnerships with Southeast Asia aren’t particularly noteworthy, it does retain a significant position in the regional bloc as an ASEAN Dialogue Partner, which implies collaboration on a variety of fronts, including political, security, economic, and socio-cultural issues. 

Thus, despite Russia’s geographical proximity to the area, explicitly denouncing a Dialogue Partner would exacerbate tensions inside the bloc. Staying in Russia’s good favor is (sadly) crucial for ASEAN. This might explain why many leaders in this region continue to use confrontational reactions. Everyone, of course, has their own national interests in mind. 

Evan Laksmana, a senior scholar at The Center on Asia and Globalization (CAG), tweeted on February 25 that Indonesia lacked “strategic empathy” in the face of Russia’s actions against Ukraine. Instead of clearly criticizing Russia’s invasion and rallying ASEAN, Indonesia has made ambiguous remarks, is preoccupied with its own internal agenda, fantasizing that only Indonesia can intervene, and is also preoccupied with the economic consequences.

“In reality, Russia’s aggressiveness has far-reaching consequences, ranging from alterations in the global order to significantly altered East Asian and Indo-Pacific theaters. We are accustomed to looking inward and waiting for other countries to request assistance. From the outside, we lack strategic empathy “He tweeted about it. 

As Stephen Krasner stated in his book “Sovereignty: Organized Hypocrisy,” this is correct. With one caveat: in many circumstances, states will simply claim to act in their own self-interest or in their own authority, and they will not always dress up what they’re doing in serious rhetoric, serious moral claims, or serious appeals to normative principles. When nations say one thing but do another, they are committing organized hypocrisy; they ostensibly support the normative ideas or standards connected with sovereignty but their policies and actions contradict them. 

Indonesia vote the UN Resolution 

Indonesia, along with 140 other nations, voted in favor of a United Nations (UN) resolution calling on Russia to halt its aggression on Ukraine. The voting process was streamed live on the UN YouTube channel. Abdulla Shahid, President of the United Nations General Assembly, presided over the meeting. Ukraine’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Sergiy Kyslytsya, up and cheered, while Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Vasiliy Nebenzia, sat with a mask covering his mouth. 

The following is a breakdown of the nations who voted in favor of the UN resolution: 

141 nations have agreed. 

5 nations disagree. 

35 nations abstain. 

On the screen, Indonesia may be recognized as one of the 141 nations that have agreed to this resolution. Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Timor Leste, Singapore, Brunei, and Thailand have all agreed to this resolution from Southeast Asia. Laos and Vietnam are abstaining.

Hikmahanto Juwana, a professor of international law at Universitas Indonesia, stated that the Indonesian side supported the UN resolution calling on Russia to end its invasion of Ukraine. Hikmahanto was remorseful about this decision. “It is regretful that Indonesia chose the stance for four reasons,” Hikmahanto stated in a statement released on Thursday (3/3/2022). 

The first reason was Hikmahanto’s belief that Indonesia was in a position to assess the Russian invasion. According to Hikmahanto, Indonesia found that the Russian invasion was incorrect. “Indeed, two warring nations must have arguments based on the UN Charter and international law. One thing is certain: Russia will not proclaim itself to be carrying out an aggressive war or attacks on other nations’ territorial integrity “Hikmahanto stated. 

This is due to the prohibition against post-World War II aggression. According to Hikmahanto, war should be permitted only when sanctioned by the United Nations or in self-defense. “Second, being in a supporting posture implies that Indonesia is merely following the United States and its allies. As a nation with a free and active foreign policy, Indonesia should keep the same distance in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia “Hikmahanto said. 

According to Hikmahanto, Indonesia does not need to be involved in a disagreement between two nations that tend to side with Ukraine, such as the United States. “Third, Indonesia appears to have forgotten it’s recent history. In the past, Indonesia was in a similar position to Russia in terms of the status of East Timor” He stated. 

According to Hikmahanto, the Indonesian narrative at the time was that the people of East Timor wanted to join Indonesia. However, AS et al deemed it to be an act of annexation. “Finally,” Hikmahanto said, “the attitude chosen by the Indonesian representative at the United Nations is not in conformity with the President’s instructions.”


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