Russia to boost ties with Thailand on 125th anniversary of relations
With over 1.5 million visitors, Thailand was the number one destination for Russian tourists in Southeast Asia before the Covid outbreak, Russia’s Ambassador to Thailand, Evgeny Tomikhin, said in an exclusive interview with The Nation Thailand.
Tomikhin said that even amid the Covid outbreak, Russians top the list of foreign visitors to Phuket, without providing a figure.
In a sign of greater people to people contact, the number of Thais travelling to Russia – before the pandemic struck – also doubled since the 2018 World Cup, said Tomikhin, speaking on the occasion of Russian Diplomats Day, which was commemorated on February 10.
Tomikhin lauded the close bilateral ties based on mutual historical values, mutual interests and good reciprocal understanding, underscoring that in 125 years of diplomatic relations Thailand and Russia had never interfered in each other's internal affairs.
Trade between the two countries was worth US$2.3 billion last year, not much different from 2020, he said, adding Russia is now pushing for greater agricultural cooperation with Thailand. Thai corporate giant Charoen Pokphand Group is investing more than US$1.8 billion (Bt58 billion) in Russia, the ambassador said.
He said the Russian government continues to offer scholarships to more Thai students, both civilians and military cadets.
Regarding Russia’s standoff with Ukraine, Tomikhin played down the war-mongering rhetoric of US and Western media.
“Rumours started to be floated last year that Russia is planning to invade Ukraine," he said, adding, many people buy those rumours despite repeated denials by Russian officials.
The ambassador also questioned the existence of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to this day, even after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and pointed to the Warsaw Pact, created by the Soviet-led bloc as a counter to Nato, which was dissolved in 1991.
The US-led Nato wants to make Ukraine a member, while Moscow sees any move by Kiev to join Nato as crossing a red line
"Nobody wants to see World War III. Because it might be the last World War. If superpowers start using nuclear weapons, it will be the end for everyone. But at the same time, Russia must protect the interests of the country and guarantee stability for the benefit of the Russian people," the ambassador argued.