Asean can be a bridge and safe space in troubled times

The Asean Regional Forum and East Asia Summit can still serve as neutral platforms for peace amid intensifying great power rivalry. But Asean, as driver of these regional institutions, must find ways to reinvigorate them to maintain its centrality.

Asean must find ways and means to reinvigorate regional institutions to maintain its centrality. PHOTO: REUTERS
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Nearly three months into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the conflict looks nowhere near being resolved. Instead, the repercussions of the war in Europe have lapped onto Asia's shores.

Within Asean, it has polarised member states into opposing groups: one, prepared to condemn Russia's invasion and call it "war"; the other, sympathetic to Russia's claim that it has undertaken only a "special military operation" against Ukraine, and that the West is to blame because it did not consider Russia's security concerns. Unless its members are prepared to address these polarising differences, Asean risks being divided further.

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