The 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting is scheduled to begin today in Cambodia.
The meeting comes as the bloc deals with a litany of issues. The recent execution of democracy activists in Myanmar—whose ASEAN membership has yet to be suspended—is another headache in the organization’s struggle to uphold democratic ideals. A five-point plan against the state failed to produce change.
The bloc also increasingly finds itself caught between the U.S. and Russia’s jockeying for global influence. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is expected to attend the foreign minister’s meeting only weeks after U.S. President Joe Biden attended an ASEAN leaders’ summit. Russia has turned to the region amid its Western diplomatic isolation, while the U.S. has tried to emphasize its Indo-Pacific focus despite its expansive role in Ukraine.
Expect ASEAN to struggle to confront these issues. The bloc has yet to adopt a successful response to Myanmar and is unlikely to meaningfully ramp up pressure on the state despite its military junta’s growing confidence. Further, Lavrov’s presence only weeks after Biden’s shows the organization’s intent to play both powers for its own advantage. Doing so does little to help resolve conflicts like Ukraine, whose reverberations affect ASEAN.
Jon is a Content Editor and Analyst within the Analysis division of Foreign Brief.