Russian foreign minister arrives in Phuket

Image courtesy of The Phuket News

Sergey Lavrov, the acting Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, was warmly received at Phuket International Airport by a welcoming committee spearheaded by Amnuay Pinsuwan, Phuket’s Vice Governor.

Lavrov’s visit is labelled by expectation as he lands on Thai soil to inaugurate the already functioning Russian consulate at Boat Lagoon in Koh Kaew, despite the absence of further details about his trip. His tenure as Foreign Minister, dating back to 2004, crowns him the longest-serving diplomat since the Tsarist times, even outliving any Soviet-era foreign minister’s terms.

His presence on the Thai island traces back to an apparent surge in the influx of Russian tourists and residents making themselves home in Phuket. As stated by the Ministry of Tourism & Sports, within the span of the first five months of this year, Thailand has received 740,840 visits from Russian nationals.

Whereas Phuket alone witnessed the entry of 25,947 Russian visitors this June, a minor 2.6% dip from ay’s 26,624 visitors, reported Phuket Immigration. These figures put Russian arrivals as the second highest to visit Phuket in the past month, superseded only by Chinese, recording 44,066 arrivals in June which is a significant 16.4% hike from May.

In his recent interaction at a forum in Jakarta, Lavrov appealed to Southeast Asian nations to collaborate in boosting the languishing trade with Russia, proposing the usage of national currencies rather than US$ to manoeuvre around the crippling Western sanctions, as per Nikkei Asia.

After the 2022 invasion of Ukraine by Russia, sanctions were imposed that resulted in a 4.4% trade contraction between Russia and the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), according to a statement from the Russian foreign ministry.

Reuters reported that the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, on Friday criticised Lavrov for his non-constructive approach during this week’s meeting between leading diplomats from powerful nations and their Southeast Asian counterparts in Jakarta.

Blinken addressed the incident following the ASEAN Regional Forum, which engaged foreign ministers from ASEAN member states and strategic partners like China, the US, India, and Russia. He opined that Lavrov utilised his interventions to launch attacks on Washington, reports The Phuket News.

It’s worth noting that the meeting in Jakarta was only the second in-person encounter between Blinken and Lavrov since the initiation of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine last year. The duo last crossed paths in New Delhi, in March, as they attended a G20 meeting offstage.

Phuket News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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