Singapore to impose sanctions on weapons, block Russian transactions

Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan speaks in parliament today. Photo: MCI
Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan speaks in parliament today. Photo: MCI

Singapore is backing up its stance on the Russian invasion of Ukraine by taking the rare step of issuing its own sanctions.

Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said today in parliament that Singapore would impose export controls on items that could be used as weapons in Ukraine, as well as blocking Russian banks and financial transactions connected to the country.

He said that the escalated conflict between Russia and Ukraine has forced them to take a stand.

“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,” he said.

“However, given the unprecedented gravity of the Russian attack on Ukraine […], Singapore intends to act in concert with many other like-minded countries to impose appropriate sanctions and restrictions against Russia,” he added.

Despite Singapore’s “good relations” with Russia, the invasion announced on Thursday was a “clear and gross violation of international norms” that goes against the “sovereignty and territorial integrity of another sovereign state,” he said. The sanctions will be announced in detail shortly.

In the meantime, Singapore will be working to end further violence and de-escalate the conflict.

Balakrishnan said the decision to invade goes against Singapore’s values and rejected Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attempt to rationalize the invasion.

“We cannot accept one country attacking another without justification, arguing that its independence was the result of ‘historical errors and crazy decisions,’” he said. “Such a rationale would go against the internationally recognized legitimacy and territorial integrity of many countries, including Singapore.”

The move puts Singapore out front in the region. Apart from Indonesia, which has also condemned the invasion, capitals from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur have remained silent. Myanmar’s junta gave its support.

Singapore was among 82 co-sponsors of a recent U.N. Security Council Resolution condemning Russia’s actions, which was not passed as Russia – obviously – vetoed it.

China, India, and the United Arab Emirates abstained from the vote.

Singapore Airlines has also announced it has suspended all flights indefinitely to Moscow with immediate effect, citing “operational reasons.”

Balakrishnan said that there are at least nine Singaporeans in Ukraine. All but one have been in touch with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Seven Singaporeans have already evacuated since the ministry put out advisories late last month, and three have crossed the border to Poland.

One was recently evacuated from Kyiv and across the border into Poland with the help of Malaysia.

Other stories you should check out:
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Singapore ‘very grateful’ after Malaysia rescues citizen and 9 Malaysians from Ukraine

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