July 23, 2022

Asia Times: Will Laos be sanction for embracing Russia?

By:  Asia Times, July 27, 2022

The Lao government claims neutrality over the Ukraine war but its actions have left some to question its impartiality as diplomatic pressure builds on Southeast Asian nations to line up with the US and West against Russia.

“We have a clear foreign policy direction. Laos will not take sides in today’s conflicts and disputes,” Thongloun Sisoulith, Laos’ state president, said at a summit in May. Economic sanctions and embargoes “will not make our world a better place,” he added.

Laos has so far consistently failed to back UN General Assembly resolutions condemning Russia and offering moral support for the Ukrainian defenders. Neighboring Vietnam, likewise a Cold War-era ally of Moscow, has also abstained on the UN votes. 

Access to Russian military equipment could be one explanation for Laos’ reticence to speak out against Russia’s invasion. Last year, news reports indicated that Russia plans to build a defense facility in Laos, a rumor that first surfaced in 2018. 

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