Vasyl Hamianin, the Ukrainian Ambassador to Indonesia, urged Indonesians to boycott Russian products and brands. Additionally, he urged the Indonesian government to prevent Russian President Vladimir Putin from attending the G20 Summit in Bali in November.
“I intend to boycott Russia,” he told Indonesia Business Post on March 24, 2022.
Russia ranks 37th in Indonesia in terms of investment. The country has also signed and committed to 280 projects in 2021 worth US$9.2 million. The volume of trade between Indonesia and Russia reached US$3 billion in 2021, an increase of 40%. In a meeting in Sochi, Russia, Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Putin agreed to achieve a US$5 billion trade surplus by 2020.
Efforts to boycott Russia
Putin announced on February 24, 2022, that Russia invaded Ukraine to demilitarize and denazify the country. More than a month after Putin’s announcement, the conflict continues. In addition to the deaths of thousands of civilians, women and children, millions of Ukrainians have fled to refugee camps in neighboring European countries.
As Hamianin explained, his call was not simply the result of his anger towards Russia and Putin. In reality, Putin could have stopped the war if nations united in imposing sanctions or boycotting Russian trade and investment.
“Only this language can be understood by him and also of course the resistance of the Ukrainian people and Ukrainian army. This is the language President Putin understands,” he said.
Russia will use the money it receives from selling oil, gas and agricultural products to finance its military, missiles and munitions. These weapons will be sent to Ukraine and used to massacre its citizens.
“This is the way it works. That’s why so many companies have left Russia. They know that they are losing money. They know it’s a loss,” Hamianin said.
According to one of the European leaders, boycotting Russia will cause significant losses for companies and countries. The losses, however, are relatively minor compared to the price they might have paid if the war had been far more extensive.
Additionally, the Ukraine Ambassador said he would urge the Indonesian government to prevent Putin from attending the G20 Summit. “Thus, I will support a boycott of Russia, Putin, on every single international platform, forum, exhibition and international body, including the G20 summit,” Hamianin stated.
At meetings for the G20 summit preparation, Hamianin plans to discuss the sanctions and boycotts against Russia and Putin with Indonesia. To him, it is morally unacceptable for world leaders to sit down with someone who has blood on his hands, who orders his army to murder civilians in cold blood.
“I do not believe many country leaders will consider this acceptable,” he stated.
The G20 summit, according to Hamianin, is a meeting devoted to peace, security, food security and medical architecture. The presence of Putin at the conference is an embarrassment. He considered Putin responsible for destroying food supply, the design of medical health infrastructure and the outline for the energy transition.
In addition, Ukraine also needs humanitarian assistance from Indonesia.
Hamianin said two Indonesian private companies had agreed to provide Ukraine with humanitarian aid in the form of medicines in significant quantities. “It is medical equipment, and it is essential not to transport it by sea because that is not permitted. It may result in the booking of the entire aircraft,” he said.
During the early spring, the civilian population in some eastern cities suffers from a lack of everything, which necessitates humanitarian assistance. “It is still freezing, so people are suffering. They have no electricity, no water, no food, no heat, nothing. We need it immediately,” said Hamianin.
Indonesia, the ambassador explained, participates actively in creating and approving the UN resolutions even though it does not follow Western countries in imposing sanctions against Russia. The resolution, which was passed on March 2, 2022, demanded that Russia immediately cease its offensive in Ukraine. “So, I am grateful for that,” he added.
The UN resolution is effective as Ukraine can see the positions of all countries, including those who are against and who support Ukraine and who did not assist Ukraine. “We saw this, and we understand,” Hamianin said.
However, he noted that Ukraine and the world need something more concrete due to the resolution’s status as a dead issue. This is because Russia is a permanent member of the UN security council.
Ukraine has applied to the United Nations 11 times in the last eight years to send peacekeeping troops to conflict prone Donbas regions. As a result, the Russian Federation rejected the application. “The problem is that we do not have time for a long negotiation. People are dying every minute; we are talking about people dying and suffering right now. Therefore, I would expect something more akin to a boycott,” he concluded.
Indonesia and Ukraine have a long history of ties. In 1945, when Indonesia declared its independence, the United Nations did not accept it. On the occasion of the UN General Assembly that year, Ukraine’s permanent representative to the UN, Dmitry Manuilsky, emphasized the importance of recognizing Indonesia as a member of the international community with the same rights as other nations.
“During that period, I believe only two or three countries supported us. However, most of these countries remained silent and did not respond. Consequently, we did not receive much support on this issue; however, our diplomatic team fought for nearly four years,” Hamianin stated.
Ukrainian diplomats presented a resolution, drafted documents, and appealed to other countries. Behind the scenes, they did many tasks and persuaded other countries to accept Indonesia as a member of the UN. During that time, the media records of Indonesian media still reflected Ukrainian diplomatic efforts. Several photographs were published in Indonesian media of people walking on the street holding signs saying “Terima Kasih [thank you], Ukraina,” “Terima Kasih, Manuilsky.” This symbolizes the beginning of Indonesia’s relationship with Ukraine.
Ukraine was a highly technological and agricultural country that once belonged to the Soviet Union. In addition, many Indonesians were studying in the Soviet Union. Some Indonesians learned in Ukraine as well. Many Ukrainian nationals came in Indonesia to work on building projects during that time.