Jokowi’s Soul On Ukraine-Russia Conflict – OpEd


After June 26-28 on the G7 Summit, an Indonesian President, Jokowi, was scheduled to meet an Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky and a Russian President, Vladimir Putin. Some Indonesian researchers have argued that Indonesia will act as a peacemaker at the meeting. 

On March 25, Gadjah Mada University (UGM) International Political Expert Riza Noer Arfani viewed Indonesia as taking advantage of this momentum by involving big countries to increase its diplomatic power. Indonesia’s big step is a serious matter considering the increasing tension between Ukraine and Russia. After Putin declared war on February 24, the Guardian, UK’s media, made a report up to day 121. The report contained the dynamics of the current situation in Ukraine. Some of them are the destruction of the city of Severodonetsk to the European Union’s approval to send aid of € 9 billion to Ukraine. 

This optimistic view is certainly a big asset considering that, at least currently, Indonesia has two major assets as peacemakers in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. 

Indonesia’s experience at the United Nations and the G20

The image of Indonesia has been internationally recognized regarding peace. On 17 October 2019, Indonesia was re-elected to the UN Human Rights Council for the fifth time after 2006-2007, 2008-2010, 2012-2014, and 2015-2017. With this, Indonesia will become the representative of the Asia-Pacific in the 2020-2022 period. 

Through the results of the trial, Indonesia received the most votes, with a total of 174 votes out of 192 valid votes. In fact, Indonesia has gained more trust than other East Asian countries such as Japan and South Korea. This status can be used by Indonesia to encourage Russia-Ukraine to carry out a ceasefire. As of May 30, 2022, the conflict has claimed 4,113 lives. 

Indonesia already has a wealth of experience in being a mediator. Indonesia plays a crucial role in the Palestinian-Israeli peace process. The Indonesian government continues to fight for two states’ solutions to make Palestine and Israel simultaneously sovereign states and Jerusalem the common capital. 

According to Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) researcher Lina Alexandra said that Indonesia had also been involved in resolving the Vietnam-Cambodia conflict in 1988 and the Philippines-Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) conflict in the 1970-1990s. 

In addition to experience, Indonesia has also been appointed as the leader of the G20. 

To date, the G20 has not been designed to resolve the Ukraine-Russia conflict. However, with the implementation of the G20, Indonesia can strengthen its image as a “leader of peace.” This can also be a prerequisite that Indonesia will gain the trust of the leaders of other countries. 

China as a ally

Apart from its status in the United Nations and the G20, Indonesia also has the opportunity to encourage China to contribute to the conflict. 

Since Jokowi was elected, relations between Jakarta and Beijing have improved. China is one of the largest partners owned by Indonesia. According to data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), Indonesia’s trade balance experienced a surplus of US$ 2.36 until mid-2021. This data was followed by the value of Indonesia’s exports to China which grew by 70.02 percent throughout 2021 compared to 2020. China was one of the largest investors, with a total of US$3.9 in 2021 under Singapore. 

China’s position in the international world is also quite convincing for Indonesia to help as part of the peacemaker. Several times, China has volunteered as a peacemaker in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which the Palestinian government has welcomed. China became the first country to offer to act as a peacemaker in the Taliban conflict in Afghanistan. 

Despite not having much experiences, China, through Premier Li Keqiang, gave a positive signal to become a facilitator of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. At the United Nations session on February 26, 2022, China abstained from voting for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This attitude is interpreted as a policy that China plays a role in helping Ukraine and continues cooperating with Russia. Mid-March 2022, China plans to add 5 million yuan or equivalent to Rp. 11 billion. 

On the other hand, China has been one of Russia’s most significant partners in recent years. On March 1, 2022, according to data from Chinese Customs Statistics (CCS), the trade between the both countries reached $146.9 billion, an increase of 35.9% from the previous year. 

Indonesia can exploit China’s neutral position in the conflict. The government can open communication with the Beijing government to push for a peaceful resolution. This experience can be used as a momentum for Indonesia to invite Russia and Ukraine to sit at the peace table.

M Habib Pashya is a researcher at the Center for Indonesia-China Studies

M Habib Pashya

M Habib Pashya is a Master's student at Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM). His research focuses on China's foreign policy, Indonesia's foreign policy, and US-Taiwan-China relations.

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