BANGKOK — The Russian ambassador to Thailand Evgeny Tomikhin on Tuesday invited a selected group of Thai media to listen to Russia’s rhetoric justifying its invasion of Ukraine.
Here are the key issues stated by the Russian envoy to the Kingdom during an hour and a half press conference attended by about 30 pre-screened journalists at the Russian Embassy in Bangkok.
Attending journalists were allowed to ask impromptu questions, with the ambassador speaking through his interpreter.
Thanking the Thai Government
Tomikhin said he appreciates that the current stance of PM Prayut Chan-o-cha’s administration is now neutral, despite voting to condemn Russia’s invasion at the U.N. General Assembly earlier this month.
“We appreciate the balanced position of the Royal Thai government. We discussed very openly [with the Thai Foreign Ministry]. We appreciate that our Thai partners are ready to hear what we are saying,” he said, adding that the Thai government eventually chose a neutral stance “despite huge pressure” exerted by the West.
He also commented that the recent visit to the Thai foreign ministry by a group of 25 European ambassadors last month was a failed bid to “pressure on the Thai government.”
“Thailand is a long-term and reliable partner … We have no political dispute.”
On the Invasion of Ukraine
“This is a special military operation,” insisted the envoy, using the same term as the Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
“The presence of American troops in Afghanistan, was it a war or what? I don’t remember the U.S. declaring war on Afghanistan,” Tomikhin said. “Our goal is to destroy military infrastructures. We want to see peaceful and friendly Ukraine, not a springboard of NATO. So, I don’t think that this is war.”
“We really had no choice. After the attack of Donbass by the Ukrainian army, Russia tries to end the war in Ukraine which started eight years ago.”
On Western Treatment of Russia Before the Invasion
“When the Cold War finished, many expected better relations with the Western community. There were lots of promises from Western politicians not to expand the NATO to former Soviet Union borders,” Tomikhin said. “Maybe [the U.S] felt absolute superiority that they can do whatever they want to do … to make provocations.”
“If somebody hits your head for a long time … Maybe eight years or 30 years, how long could you be patience? For 30 years [since the fall of the Soviet Union], we didn’t feel respect from Western countries. By the way, the American military have bases more than our embassies abroad.”
On Children Killed by War
“Of course, war is bad, especially for civilians,” Tomikhin said. “I would like to ask where the international organizations including the UNICEF were in the past eight years? Russia’s main priority is to destroy military infrastructures.”
“We don’t shell civil infrastructures. We don’t shell apartments. Of course, any war results in casualties.”
On Those Who Oppose the War in Front of the Embassy
“We experience these activities almost every day. These same people come here … that’s their right to organize some actions,” Tomikhin said. “We thank police who are on duty. It’s not a normal environment. We know that some of them are people from Ukraine, some of these people represent other countries, not Russia or Ukraine.”
On How Long the War Will Continue
“It’s not easy [to answer], especially when Ukrainian troops try to hide themselves among civilians,” Tomikhin said. “There’s no schedule for the operation. There are objectives, first, destroying military infrastructures, second, denazification.”
On Why Western Press in Bangkok Were Not Invited
“We had a lot of requests from Western media, but unfortunately, you can see that this room is not big enough,” Tomikhin said. “Regrettably, we cannot have all media friends to come. I know some of you support Ukraine and posted relevant photos on your social media accounts, but anyway I try to be open.”
Outside the Embassy, a dozen of protesters, Thais and Ukrainians, were holding placards condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Among the crowd was Yuliia Yesik, 31, a Ukrainian teacher based in Bangkok. She told Khaosod English not to listen to Russian “propaganda.”
“This is a pure genocide of the Ukrainian people. It’s a pure massacre. Russia is trying its best to feed bullshit to the [Thai] media.”
Another protester, Tippawan Jayankura na Ayudhya, who works for the grounded Ukraine International Airlines, urged fellow Thais to pay attention to the war because children are being killed.
Khaosod English will try to reach out to Ukrainian Charge d’Affaires to Thailand Pavlo Orel to hear what he thinks about the above statements.