Lee also said that sanctions mark a “big step” to take for a small country like Singapore, and the obstacle is even “higher” for the country to impose sanctions on its own.
“But in this case, because it is such a gross, flagrant and major violation of international standards and with such a major impact on the global order, including in our region, we decided that we had to act on sanctions because the UN does not could act, “he said.
“Obviously the UN can not act, because you need the Security Council. The Russians are there; they have a veto (and) it will not go through,” the prime minister added. “But we had to stand up and be counted and we did. “
WHAT IT MEANS FOR SINGAPORE
The war in Ukraine, which started on February 24, is “not over” and that both sides of the conflict are not close to reaching an arrangement that would create peace yet, Lee said.
“And I think the military struggle will continue,” he added.
What the crisis means for a small country like Singapore is the need to build up the country’s own defenses and be well-equipped.
But most important, said the Prime Minister, is the will to fight for his home.
“This is my home, I will fight for it (and) if need be, I am willing to die for it,” he said. “And it is the will to defend what is yours and to defend your family and friends that keeps the Ukrainians going, and that Singaporeans must have if we are to stay safe in this world.”
At the same time, Singapore will need to look at what is happening in the region and how other countries are reacting to the crisis.
The Prime Minister also reiterated the need to develop institutions in the region that can help avert “a hot conflict like this”, a point he has made throughout his visit to the United States.
There are already helpful platforms, such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the East Asia Summit, as well as the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework presented by the United States as a way to engage the region.
“Basically ways to bring countries in the region together to expand their areas of cooperation and interdependence while providing a forum to talk about rather difficult issues, so that we can ward them off before they become impossible to deal with,” he said. Lee told reporters.
“We do our part to encourage it, but it is something that requires a lot of participants and to the extent that we have influence, we try to encourage other countries to go in that direction, which is one of the reasons I am here in the United States.”
Lee noted that the United States has been “deeply involved in diplomacy and other aspects” of the conflict in Ukraine.
“They can see how it goes, but at the same time they are thinking ahead about what could possibly be the result and how we handle it. And especially how to handle it in relation to China and the relationship between the United States and China,” he said.
Still, the relationship between the two superpowers is “full”, Lee said, adding that existing communication channels may not be sufficient for “very demanding” topics of discussion.