bne IntelliNews – Mongolia on tiptoe in the face of Russian aggression against Ukraine
Amarsaikhan Sainbuyan, Mongolian Deputy Prime Minister, and Battsetseg Batmunkh, Mongolian Foreign Minister, spoke to the press about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. They presented plans to repatriate Mongolian nationals from Ukraine, but did not condemn Russia’s action. Both described the invasion as a military operation and an armed struggle in Ukraine.
Mongolian officials are unlikely to speak out against invading Ukraine, given the Kremlin’s stranglehold on Mongolia’s fuel supply. The country imports more than 98% of its automotive fuel from Russia.
An official discussed the possible benefits of sanctions against Russia with reporters. Yondon Gelen, Mongolian Minister of Mines and Heavy Industries, said: “If sanctions against Russia are imposed, they could have a beneficial effect on us. He said that “since we buy fuel from Russia at the Singapore exchange rate”, Mongolia does not negotiate with Rosneft, Mongolia’s largest fuel supplier.
According to a Mongolian student who attends Donbass State Technical University and spoke to the local news site Tovch, the Mongolian foreign ministry refused to listen to their pleas to take note that a Russian attack against Ukraine was imminent, telling students to provide evidence if an attack was indeed imminent. When the attack happened, “they told us to find transportation to the Ukrainian border to Poland when all other transportation becomes unavailable.”
Battsetseg told the media: “Currently, Ukrainian flights are suspended, and if the air border is not opened soon, citizens will be transported by road through Poland and Hungary.”
On February 25, the government held a meeting to discuss the repatriation of Mongolian citizens to Ukraine. The government has announced that it will spend around 500 million Mongolian tughriks (MNT) (about $175,000) to repatriate the 20 or so Mongolians to Ukraine, most of whom are university students. The Foreign Ministry has said it will try to fly the Mongols home overland, with air travel suspended in Ukraine.