Brief: Hun Sen Says Ukraine Crisis Will Be Prolonged, Calls for Negotiations

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Pro-Ukraine demonstration at Lafayette Square, February 25, 2022. (John Brighenti/Creative Commons)

Prime Minister Hun Sen weighed in on the Ukraine and Russia conflict Sunday, opining that both militaries were unlikely to beat the other and negotiations were the only way out of the crisis.

The Russian military entered Ukrainian territory on Thursday, resulting in four days of intense fighting across the country. Russian President Vladimir Putin had previously authorized military action in two regions of eastern Ukraine, which he claimed were sovereign areas. However, Russia has attacked cities and military installations across Ukraine.

Hun Sen spoke to government-aligned Fresh News on Sunday and said Russia’s military had made little progress in the conflict so far and that the intense fighting could be prolonged.

“How many days and how many troops will be needed to win a war or an end to the war? It may not be possible even if Russia occupies the whole of Ukraine and the president [of Ukraine] is killed or arrested; are their people willing to remain silent?” Hun Sen said in the interview. 

He said there would be popular uprising in the second scenario, and pointed to other failed wars in Iraq, Syria and Libya. He said an extended conflict in Afghanistan was evidence of how long these conflicts can linger.

“The most important task ahead is to negotiate peacefully, for mutual benefit, to end the bloody war and find true peace,” he said, pointing to talks that lead to Cambodia’s Paris Peace Agreement in the early 1990s following the Khmer Rouge regime and a decade of civil war.

“The venue and time of negotiations should not be an obstacle for negotiations, as it will prolong the pain for the people who are now leaving and taking refuge,” he added.

Bloomberg reported Sunday that Ukrainian and Russian representatives will hold talks at a location on the Ukrainian and Belarussian border.

On Sunday, Asean foreign ministers issued a short statement expressing concern over “armed hostilities in Ukraine.” It called for all parties to “exercise maximum restraint.”

“We believe that there is still room for peaceful dialogue  to prevent the situation from getting out of control,” the statement reads.

— Ouch Sony, Ananth Baliga

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