Event Reports

“Geopolitical Implications of the War in Ukraine”

jointly organised by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the German-Southeast Asian Center of Excellence for Public Policy and Good Governance (CPG), Faculty of Law, Thammasat University, and the Asian Governance Foundation (AGF)

The event in the Europe in Review (EiR) seminar series on Europe-Asia relations, titled “Geopolitical Implications of the War in Ukraine” is part of activities organised by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the German-Southeast Asian Center of Excellence for Public Policy and Good Governance (CPG) to inform about affairs and developments in law and politics in Europe and the European Union impacting Thailand and Southeast Asia and contribute to promoting the dialogue between the two regions.

The seminar was comprised of two highly insightful presentations each covering important facets of the impacts of the war in Ukraine in Europe and Southeast Asia. Among the speakers were Ms. Isabel Weininger, Policy Advisor for Southeast Asia of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and Assoc. Prof. Dr. Jittipat Poonkham, Faculty of Political Science, Thammasat University. The event was moderated by Dr. Lasse Schuldt, Faculty of Law, Thammasat University.

Both presentations highlighted that Russian President Vladimir Putin launched on February 24 a “war of choice” and a “full-scale invasion” of Ukraine, breaking international law.  In response, Europe has demonstrated its unity in condemning Russia’s war and imposed sanctions against Moscow unprecedented in scope.

Among the impacts of the war in Europe, highlighted by Isabel Weininger, is a high number of millions of Ukrainian refugees fleeing their country for other European countries. Furthermore, the war has highlighted the need to reduce the European Union’s dependence on Russian energy, prompting immediate diversification of energy providers. Thirdly, the war has been a wake-up call for Europe to strengthen and boost European security and defense policy and push for more military self-reliance.

Repercussions of the war in Ukraine on Southeast Asia, presented by Dr. Jittipat Poonkham, include economic ones, reflected among others in rising prices of fuel, food and other commodities, as well as a decline in the number of Russian tourists in the region. Secondly, regional security implications: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the issue of positioning itself in the conflict constitutes a challenge to the sustainability of ASEAN’s traditional hedging strategy of avoiding both conflict on the one side and excessively close ties with any specific great power on the other. Thirdly, the war has intensified the political divides in Thai society pertaining to pro- vs anti-Russia/pro- vs anti-US sentiments.

Among the participants in the seminar were representatives of academia, national, regional and international NGOs and civil society organizations, lawyers as well as a high number of students from various universities. To be mentioned is that also attending the event was H.E. Kasit Piromya, Thailand’s former foreign minister and former ambassador to Moscow, who actively participated in the open discussion.

In summary, the event can be seen as successful. It was highly informative and provide a wealth of insights in the war and the geopolitical dynamics and challenges it has unleashed and triggered for Thailand and Southeast Asia. The lively discussion in the open forum with contributions from a wide range of participants reflected the quality of the presentations and the great interest in the topic among the predominantly Thai audience.