How is Mongolia reacting to the Russian-Ukrainian war? – The Diplomat
The Russian invasion of the war in Ukraine has claimed thousands of lives, displaced 1 million refugees and left foreign governments scrambling to get their citizens to safety using diplomatic and emergency evacuation measures. Mongolia, too, has carefully coordinated with its Eastern European partners, including Ukraine, Poland, Hungary and Czechia, to evacuate Mongolian citizens.
In late February, ahead of Russian troop movements in Ukraine, the Mongolian Embassy in Warsaw began advising its citizens to leave Ukraine as tensions escalated and diplomatic efforts derailed. On February 28, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia declared that Mongolian embassies in Poland, Hungary and Czechia were responsible for contacting Mongolian citizens residing in Ukraine and mobilizing an evacuation plan and executing these plans using public funds.
So far, 23 Mongolian citizens have been evacuated from Kharkiv, using the Kharkiv-Lviv train to reach the Polish-Ukrainian border – a journey of around 1,100 km. Eleven other citizens, mostly students from Odessa, Kyiv and Kirovohrad, traveled by car to meet Mongolian consulate employees at border crossing points between Poland and Ukraine. According to a source from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, all these students were on scholarships and could see their studies permanently disrupted by the war.
As of March 2, thanks to the Mongolian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the collaboration of Eastern European partners, Mongolia had successfully evacuated 58 of its citizens of Ukraine.
While some Mongolia watchers are conflicted about how Mongolia should respond to the current war between Russia and Ukraine, others who know Mongolian foreign policy understand and predict Mongolia’s response.
On March 2, the United Nations General Assembly summoned an emergency session to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Mongolia abstained along with 34 other nations, including China and India. No doubt Mongolia’s abstention has raised some eyebrows in diplomatic circles. However, both from a security and foreign policy perspective, given Mongolia’s geopolitical challenge, its relations with its neighbors – Russia and China – cannot be hampered by external instabilities. At the same time, Mongolia’s abstention does not mean that it will miraculously avoid the economic damage that is already following war and widespread sanctions against Russia.
Moreover, in response to current events, the Mongolian people have begun to speak out in favor of peaceful dialogues between Russia and Ukraine.
On March 3, eight peace advocates gathered in Sukhbaatar Square in Ulaanbaatar. One of the defenders, B. Bilguun, wearing a white T-shirt that read #nowar, told a journalist “In our generation, in 2022, we shouldn’t worry about tanks destroying cities and bullets flying through windows. The current Russian-Ukrainian crisis is really about global oligarchs battling over resources, where superpowers bully smaller players. I am here because I would like to show the world that Mongolia stands in solidarity with peace.
Peace activists gathered again in Sukhbaatar Square on March 5 to call for an end to the war. They were joined this time by former President Elbegdorj Tsakhia.
Just a month before the entry of Russian troops into Ukraine on January 21, Mongolia and Ukraine famous 30 years of diplomatic relations in the Ukrainian parliament in Kyiv. The event celebrated the countries’ history, shared values and political, economic and trade cooperation. The ceremony took place in the presence of the Mongolian Ambassador to Ukraine, Dorj Barkhas; Chairman of the Mongolia-Ukraine Friendship Committee, I. Krishoviv; and Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Dmytro Senik, as well as geologists, businessmen and research representatives.
Previously, in October 2021, 40 business entities from Mongolia and Ukraine held an online summit to improve the business environment of the two countries. Given the current escalation of the war, these opportunities will inevitably be delayed.
Mongols, for generations, have traveled to work and study in Russia and Ukraine. Mongolian leaders traveled to Kyiv and Crimea, inspired by its maritime capabilities, to return to a landlocked economy. But Mongolian leaders also understand that for Mongolia to develop, its foreign policy must be flexible but shrewd, capable of putting the national interest first. The ambitions of governments, parties and superpowers change over time, but the one constant in a bilateral relationship is the people-to-people ties. These values must be protected at all times.
The elephant in the room is how Mongolia will manage new geopolitical changes and economic pressures, while maintaining stable bilateral and multilateral relations with Russia and China, and with the rest of the world.