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Newsline: Indonesia’s Shuttle Diplomacy Can Be More Than Empty Miles

Mediation attempts will struggle while Russia remains unrepentant on its war in Ukraine. But “strategically neutral” nations can and must play a role in ending this conflict. Indonesian President Joko Widodo visited Kyiv and Moscow last week, offering to be a diplomatic bridge between the two. The first Asian leader to make the trip to both capitals since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, he made a few headlines, but no real progress. (https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2022-07-04/indonesia-s-shuttle-diplomacy-on-ukraine-russia-can-be-more-than-empty-miles) Critics saw the journey as image politics. And yet, Widodo’s not wrong to see a role for states outside the wealthy world in helping to resolve a crisis that has punished emerging markets, particularly those that are also importers of food, fertilizer and fuel, like Indonesia. Southeast Asia’s most populous country is well placed to act. It has historic political and military ties to Russia and economic connections with Ukraine; it also holds this year’s presidency of the G20 and next year’s chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. It has a strong diplomatic presence to back any initiative. Even small-scale success, however, requires ambition and a concerted push for more than empty Kremlin promises.

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