ASEAN leaders on Friday stopped short of directly criticizing Russia following the end of the US-ASEAN summit hosted by US president Joe Biden at the White House. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) said that it wants ‘immediate cessation of hostilities’.
“With regard to Ukraine, as for all nations, we continue to reaffirm our respect for sovereignty, political independence, and territorial integrity,” the statement said.
However, the statement did not use the words ‘Russia’, ‘war’ and ‘invasion’. It indicated that the ASEAN nations are careful not to anger Russia by directly criticizing it. Even Indonesia has been careful and refused to exclude Russian president Vladimir Putin from the G20 summit. Rather the nation has extended the invitation to both Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian president Vladimir Putin.
An official from the Biden administration speaking to news agency Bloomberg said that the administration felt it was a step forward that the ASEAN member nations called for a peaceful resolution and also stressed on Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
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Heads of states of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam were in White House on Thursday as it hosted an ASEAN summit for the first time. Biden also announced that Yohannes Abraham, who serves as chief of staff and executive secretary at the National Security Council will be appointed as US ambassador to ASEAN.
The Biden administration and ASEAN members agreed to establish a comprehensive strategic partnership in November. It now has established a similar relationship with both China and the US.  It also announced $150 million in initiatives for the ASEAN member states.
Even though Ukraine issues were mentioned without mentioning Russia, ASEAN leaders were worried about the crisis Myanmar was facing under the military junta rule.
The Biden administration official mentioned above also said that the administration did not expect the Ukraine issue to feature prominently during the summit.
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