Location: Ulaanbaatar – Mongolia
Restrictions: A24 Clients
Tens of thousands of people have demonstrated across the globe in support of Ukraine and demanded an end to Russia’s invasion, which began on February 24th. But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has put landlocked Mongolia in a tight spot economically and diplomatically with a small group of protesters gathering on Ulaanbaatar’s Sukhbaatar Square to call for an end to hostilities in Ukraine, only to be confronted by ultra-nationalists worried about antagonising Russia.
Mongolia’s Democratic Party, which has a seat in the Mongolian parliament, condemned the Russian invasion and demanded that Moscow immediately stop its act of aggression.
However, experts have warned that Mongolia’s delicate balancing act between East and West could be upset.
Leader of the’’Zon olon” Party E.Odbayar said that people expressed their own opinions, accusing authorities of interfering openly in such a process.
Odbayar said police and law enforcement agencies continue to prosecute citizens who express their views.
Ts.Buyantsogtoo, Director and Researcher at the Institute for Strategic Studies, said the most important thing is that the Mongolian government foreign policy must be neutral unless its security and interests come under a threat.
He blamed members of Democratic Party for making an official statement on the Russian war, urging them to be in agreement with the government, which he said tries to strike a balance in all matters.
(SOUNDBITE): E.Odbayar, leader of the “Zon olon” Party
“Six anti-war “No War” movements took place in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. Citizens are expressing interest in joining the march in the future. The authorities are openly interfering in the process of expressing their views and opinions, and a group of fascist and Nazi ideologues is inciting and directing against us. There is a tendency for law enforcement agencies not to take any action, to ignore or support this event. In addition, the police and law enforcement agencies continue to prosecute citizens who express their views. In the past, when civil movements have expressed their views on certain issues, many citizens have been imprisoned under pressure. The manifestation of all this is that Mongolia is being tested in front of all the people and other countries to see if it is an independent and free country. We have failed several times before this test.”
(SOUNDBITE): Ts.Buyantsogtoo, Director, Researcher, Eurasian Institute for Strategic Studies
“This is not a bad thing when people are divided and actively talking about war. Our neighbor Russia and a country like ours are at war with Ukraine. It will definitely catch our attention. It is clear that there will be a rift in the People’s Committee. The most important thing is that our government policy must be right. I think it is very important to have a neutral policy. It is right that our country has pursued a policy of “suspension” through the UN referendum. Of course, it is very difficult to go straight to one side. In general, we have to look at Russia’s policy. We are such a destined country, there is no other way. However, members of the DP faction in Parliament should not make official statements. We must be in agreement with the government, as we have been. I think that conflicts and divisions among people are a sign of our democracy.”
(SOUNDBITE): S.Bayasgalan, Associate Professor, Lecturer, School of International Relations, National University of Mongolia
“In our foreign policy documents, it is called “Balancing”. There is evidence that we will not intervene in any dispute between the two countries unless it affects Mongolia’s security and interests. This is a de facto balance under international law. It is very important for us to strike a balance. People only look at the economy. For example, economic sanctions have been imposed on Russia over Ukraine. This includes all sectors, not just the economy. Assuming all sectors are involved, geopolitical issues are also included. Geopolitics is the only way to strike a balance. We are trying to strike a balance. I see that the current government is doing this. This is because no statement has been made since the Russian troops entered Ukraine. It also looks like it will provide humanitarian assistance to Ukraine. I don’t know what Russia means by that. Probably not political because of its humanitarian nature. The Russians know what kind of country Mongolia is.”
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