S'pore citizens' duty is to S'pore: Vivian Balakrishnan on whether S'poreans can fight in Ukraine for Ukrainians

"Instead of choosing sides, we uphold principles," the foreign minister emphasised.

Zhangxin Zheng | February 28, 2022, 01:50 PM

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Several Members of Parliament (MPs) posed questions regarding the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine after Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan made his ministerial speech on the conflict on Feb. 28.

Sembawang GRC MP Lim Wee Kiak asked three questions, including whether the Singapore government will object to Singaporeans volunteering to join the foreign legion to fight with Ukrainians against the Russian aggression.

Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky put up an appeal to foreign nationals to come to Ukraine to fight against "Russian war criminals", on Feb. 27.

He added that the Ukrainian armed forces were in the process of setting a foreign legion unit for these volunteers, The Guardian reported.

Vivian's response on Singaporeans joining foreign legion in Ukraine

In response to this question, Vivian reiterated that Singapore does not take sides and will uphold principles. Singapore also does not allow the import of foreign politics into Singapore's domestic environment.

Singapore also cannot support the promotion or organisation of armed groups into other countries, regardless of the justification.

He reminded that Singaporeans' duty is to Singapore, and our national interests.

Here's the full reply from Vivian in Parliament on Feb. 28:

"On your third question about the foreign legion, again, I will have to come back to principle. Singapore does not take sides. Singapore does not allow the import of foreign politics into Singapore's domestic environment.

Similarly, Singapore cannot support the promotion or organisation of armed groups, whatever their justification, into other countries, so our long standing rules and regulatory system must continue to apply.

So, Singapore citizens, your duty is to Singapore. To fight and die if need be, to defend our national interests and to take a long term view of what our national interests are. So I would leave it at that."

Recently, UK's foreign minister Liz Truss said she would support UK citizens who wished to fight for Ukraine, but was criticised as this could be illegal under UK law.

Instead of choosing sides, we uphold principles: Vivian

Earlier in his ministerial speech on the Russia-Ukraine crisis, Vivian said that it is easy for small countries like Singapore to be caught up in geopolitical games of big powers.

"Small countries must avoid becoming sacrificial pawns, vassal states, or cat's paws to be used by one side against the other," Vivian added.

Therefore, it is important for Singapore to maintain good relations with our neighbouring countries and with big powers.

"When situations arise, our assessments and our actions are based on clearly enunciated and consistently held principles that are in our own long term national interests, instead of choosing sides," Vivian emphasised.

The foreign minister also encouraged people who wish to provide humanitarian assistance to go through proper channels like the Singapore Red Cross, which is working with the Ukrainian Red Cross Society and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies.

They will provide essential relief supplies such as hygiene kits, family kits and household kits for the vulnerable people who have been displaced by the conflict.

Top image collage via and Gov.sg/YouTube screenshot