Foreign Ministry Asks Telegram Group to Classify Demining Training as Humanitarian Aid

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The demining training pictured on January 20, 2023. (CMAC’s Facebook page)
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The Foreign Ministry has taken umbrage with an infographic shared in a Telegram group that classified Cambodia’s training of Ukrainian deminers as military support.

The ministry released a statement Tuesday decrying the publication of the infographic on the “Demografiya upala” Telegram channel for calling the demining training as military support rather than humanitarian aid. The creators of the infographic have since amended the image.

“[This] grouping is not only inaccurate, but could prove to be detrimental to Cambodia as a peace-loving country which strictly adheres to a foreign policy of neutrality as anchored in the Constitution,” the statement reads.

Article 53 of the Constitution states that Cambodia must be neutral in its foreign policy, not interfere in the internal issues of other countries, and must not join any military pact or alliance that contradicts its stance of neutrality.

The statement was mostly picked up by government-friendly media outlets in Cambodia and Russian state media agencies.

Around 15 Ukrainian deminers are being trained by their Cambodian counterparts at the Cambodian Mine Action Committee, with assistance from Japan. Cambodia last year faced pressure to denounce Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and voted against Russia despite historical ties.

It was not immediately clear who runs the Telegram channel but authors updated the infographic to reflect Cambodia’s position, according to a translation from Google Translate, while also clarifying that they considered military aid to extend beyond just arms and ammunition.

The channel contains long posts and multiple infographics using data from both Russia and Ukraine, including maps and graphics on Russian casualties in the war, population comparisons and troop mobilization numbers.

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