Shangri-La Dialogue: the war in Ukraine at the heart of the ministerial roundtable

SINGAPORE — The war in Ukraine and its implications dominated a panel discussion among 27 visiting ministers and their representatives at the Shangri-La Dialogue security conference on Saturday (June 11).

Singapore Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen, who hosted the session, said there had been significant discussions on the conflict which began in February, including its global consequences, such as inflationary pressures and supply shocks.

These aftershocks also came in the wake of another “epochal, unique in a century” event – the Covid-19 pandemic, he told reporters in an interview after the roundtable.

The panel discussion is a regular feature of the Shangri-La Dialogue, which was held this weekend at the Shangri-La Hotel after being halted for two years due to the pandemic.

Dr Ng said there was a realization of what continued war in Ukraine would mean for the rest of the world, including the price Ukraine, Russia and Europe must pay.

But there have also been discussions about what it would mean if the world looked the other way and allowed aggression and violations of the UN Charter to continue, he added.

“So there were some tough questions but I would say the ministers didn’t shy away from them.”

In a statement, Singapore’s Ministry of Defense (Mindef) said ministers discussed the implications of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on loss of life, international peace, as well as resilience. supply chains and market stability.

Several of them also exchanged views on how the situation will affect the Asia-Pacific region, Europe and the world.

Attendees included US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe, who sat opposite each other at the table. Other countries present were Malaysia, Canada, Brunei, Fiji, Sri Lanka and Qatar.

Ukraine was represented by its Deputy Foreign Minister, Dmytro Senik.

The representatives reaffirmed the importance of maintaining a rules-based international order and agreed on the fundamental importance of upholding states’ obligations under international law and the UN Charter, Mindef added.

Asked about the impact of the war in Ukraine on how Asean would handle the Asean Defense Ministers Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus), Dr Ng replied that if there is consensus on the fact that the world community must send the right message when a “sacred law” is broken, the prevention of such conflicts requires concrete efforts.

Jessica C. Bell