Three myths that justify what cannot be justified
More than 100 days have passed since Russia invaded Ukraine, an independent and sovereign state, and it threatens others; this being an act of war that the world had hoped was obsolete today. Here in Thailand, far from the frontlines, we see Moscow's aggressive disinformation campaign aimed at confusing people and trying to justify what cannot be justified.
Let us examine the top three disinformation myths currently circulating in Thailand:
Myth No.1: Ukraine is being used as a proxy by the West to subdue Russia
It is clear to the whole world that Russia amassed a huge military force on its border with Ukraine over many months before its invasion. It is equally clear that this could not be any sort of defensive action in reaction to a, non-existent, military threat from Ukraine against Russia. The invasion was an unprovoked attack that forced Ukraine, justifiably, to defend its freedom, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The EU and its Member States, and other partners, are helping in the defence of Ukraine through humanitarian aid, military equipment, financial assistance, sanctions and through the reception of over 6 million refugees.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has mobilised his armed forces and people are being killed and cities destroyed.
The EU is mobilising its economic power through its unprecedented sanctions regime designed to increase economic pressure on Russia and undermine its ability to finance the war.
Helping to defend Ukraine and the rules based international system, in no way represents an attack by "the West" on Russia, using Ukraine as a proxy. Instead it represents the rejection of the principle that "might is right" in governing international relations -- something important for all UN member countries.
Myth No.2: EU and Western sanctions are contributing to rising food prices
Ukraine and Russia account for a third of global cereals exports. Russia has destroyed much of the Ukrainian agricultural land it has invaded -- the UN (Food and Agriculture Organisation) estimates that a third of crops may not be harvested this year; there are around 20 million tonnes of cereals blocked by Russia in Ukrainian ports; Russia has taken Ukrainian wheat and stopped its own exports of wheat, causing the spikes in global prices. Similarly, fertiliser price spikes severely restrict the affordability of fertilisers for smallholder farmers in developing countries.
The UN (FAO) notes that some 50 countries depend on Ukraine and Russia for 30%, or more, of their wheat supply; furthermore, the UN (World Food Programme) estimates that an extra 47 million people globally could face acute hunger due to the war.
The EU sanctions on Russia do not target agriculture, neither do they obstruct Ukraine from exporting its cereals or sunflower oil. It is the war and the weaponising of agricultural trade by Russia which today exacerbates the food insecurity problems for millions of people across the globe.
Myth No.3: EU and the West are pressuring Thailand to choose sides and against Russia
We as the international community have worked hard over decades to create an international system based on rules, institutions and negotiations -- in short, on multilateralism.
Thailand, and indeed other countries of the region, have played an important role in this process; let us recall that the negotiation of the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea started under the presidency of Thailand's Foreign Minister H.R.H. Prince Wan Waithayakon who also became President of the UN General Assembly in 1956.
The world deplores the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as shown through the UN General Assembly Resolution adopted on 2 March -- some 141 countries, including Thailand, the EU Member States and many others from across the continents, voted in favour.
This reflects the overriding importance of the principles enshrined in the UN Charter and those of international law, in particular respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and the non-use of force against States.
The EU encourages all UN member countries to uphold the principles of the UN Charter and to help defend the international system from the clear attack which the Russian war represents; negotiation and law should prevail over the use of military force.
The war is in Europe but its impact spreads globally. It concerns everyone who wishes to preserve our multilateral system.
The Kremlin's disinformation campaign must not distract us from the fundamental truth that nothing justifies the fatalities, the destruction, the weaponising of food exports, the increased vulnerability of global hunger, or the threat to smaller countries wishing to pursue their own paths.
Sadly, it seems that the old adage that "truth is the first casualty in war" still applies, as evidenced by the Russian disinformation campaign.
The EU stands for peace, justice, democracy and our multilateral system. The EU stands with Ukraine.
David Daly is Ambassador of the European Union to Thailand.