Russian President Vladimir Putin accepts invitation to APEC meeting in Thailand

Russian President Vladimr Putin at APEC Summit in Thailand in 2003

Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed his attendance at the upcoming Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting which will be held in Bangkok next month from November 18-19, according to Minister of Foreign Affairs Don Pramudwinai.

The Russian Federation is one of APEC’s 21 members. Putin attended an APEC summit hosted by Thailand 19 years ago in 2003.

More than 30 countries imposed economic sanctions on Russia after Putin declared war on Ukraine. However, Thailand will welcome Putin with open arms next month. After all, Thailand and Russia celebrate 125 years of diplomatic relations this year.

Last week, France President Emmanuel Macron sent a letter to Prayut confirming his attendance at the meeting next month. Although Cambodia is not a member of APEC, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen will also be in attendance.

US President Joe Biden will not be coming to Bangkok next month as he has a prior engagement to attend his granddaughter’s wedding at the White House on November 19. Biden’s no-show is a blow for Thailand. However, he is sending Vice President Kamala Harris in his place to represent the US.

The UK and India were both invited, despite not being members of APEC, but they can’t make it.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has “verbally confirmed” his attendance, but Thailand is still waiting on an official response from China.

Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud will be potentially in attendance, given that he will be in southeast Asia attending the G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia, from November 15-16.

Several European countries have banned Russian tourists from entering over widespread support among the Russian public for Putin’s attack on Ukraine. Thailand is doing quite the opposite, and trying to lure in Russian tourists – who are so valuable to Thailand’s tourism industry – by flying Russians in on chartered flights this High Season.

At the end of the month, Aeroflot will resume direct flights between Thailand and Russia for the first time in seven months. The flights are intended to restore Russian tourism to Thailand but may serve a second purpose.

Today, a Russian man residing in Pattaya told the Pattaya Mail that he recently came to the kingdom via Turkey after fleeing military conscription in Russia. He said that he expects many more men from his country to flee conscription and fly to Thailand once direct flights resume next month.

Thailand could be an attractive option for Russians fleeing Putin’s draft after all remaining Covid-19 entry restrictions were dropped on October 1. Moreover, Thailand has extended the maximum stay of visa exemptions on arrival from 30 to 45 days.

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Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

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