Dr. Sombat Thiratrakoolchai : "Problems are always there for you to solve! And targets are always there for you to hit!  Strangely, I am an architect, but now I am working for a food company. Ha! Everything is different in my life! Now I am the President of the Thai-Russian Chamber of Commerce! And I still believe that, Life is still very beautiful for me!” 





Dr. Surat Rakhimbabaev interviews the President of the Thai-Russian Chamber of Commerce Dr. Sombat Thiratrakoolchai on the Thai-Russian bilateral trade and investment.
Dr. Sombat started the interview:
-                  Actually, I had been working as an architect and designed more than 60 buildings and completed 20 master-plans for 20 campuses in Thailand. Not to mention that I am also a professor for only 30 years. But now I am working for a food company. And in order to make my life more diversified, presently I am the President of the TRCC (Thai-Russian Chamber of Commerce). If not yet diversified enough, you know, I am also the Chairman of the Thailand-Pakistan Business Council. What a correlation! Ha ha ha!  So what are we going to talk about? About architecture?, Pakistan?, or Russia?
Q. I wanna talk about you and your work - I say, especially about your diversified life and what leads you to the Thai-Russian Chamber of Commerce.
That’s wonderful, – Dr. Sombat smiles slightly – everything boils down to work. I say, my main job is working for CPF ( Note: CP stands for Charoen Pokphand, and CPF stands for Charoen Pokphand Foods, Public Company Limited) which is one of the largest food companies in the world. You know, I use my architectural capability supervising the design and planning of CP’s two modern food manufacturing plants. I am the one who brings in the new modern look of the new world of architecture to the CP’s manufacturing plants. That was really fun! And with my 8-year services as the Dean of the School of Architecture, my boss at CPF thought I might do well as the President of the Thai -Russian Chamber of Commerce. Moreover, I am also the Director and Member of the Executive Board of the Board of Trade of Thailand (BOT), and the Chair of the BOT thought I could do very well as the Chairman of the Thailand-Pakistan Business Council.  Believe me, it’s not easy but I enjoy wearing many hats at the same time. It’s ok, I have a strong head!
Q: Let's talk about your Russian role at the Thai-Russian Chamber of Commerce. What is the main challenges and how do you manage to get to the highest success?  Basically tell us about the journey of the TRCC before it comes to this point?
Dr. Sombat.  Oh, I am a lucky guy. The very fact that TRCC can come this far is because of the great effort by all of its predecessors, Mr. Chusak Direkwattanachai as the 1st President, and Mr. Pisak Nivataphand as the 2nd President.  The organization started out in November 5th, 2005 as the Thai-Russian Trade Association which Mr. Vitaly Kisselev took part as one of the co-founders, the organization has been elevated since then to become one of the most respectable “Thai-Russian Chamber of Commerce - TRCC” until today. Mr. Achava Smuthranond and Dr. Sourat Rakhimbabaev are key drivers of our Executive Team.
We have to gracefully praise and recognize the great contributions of the Ambassadors of the Embassy of the Russian Federation to Thailand, and the Trade Representatives of the Russian Federation to Thailand who work closely with the TRCC to strengthen the trade-promotions and economic-cooperation between the two countries continuously.  “The duty of the TRCC is mainly to provide information and all kind of assistances to all of our members. Some of the duties includes business-matching and transactions, and participation in some bilateral governmental meetings, such as the meeting with H.E. Denis Manturov, and H.E. Dmitry Medvedev when His Excellencies visited Thailand this year. The successes of our members is the achievement of the TRCC”.
The challenge at this point is the sluggish world economic and the devaluation of the Ruble due to the low oil and gas prices. Tourists from Russia to Thailand drop half, and the amount of import/export values drop also half of what they used to be.  However, believe that the Russian people will be patient and adjusting themselves to this situation which I personally think it will take few years to come back to normal again where oil and gas prices will be higher and Ruble will be stronger. We are planning to take a group of Thai and Russian Business people to visit Russian Far East Region, to Khabarovsk Krai and to Vladivostok in the middle of 2016. There is a great potential where cost of initiating and running new businesses is lower than Moscow and St. Petersburg. The Governors of the two cities are fully supporting all foreign trade and investments.  Furthermore, there are export markets nearby like Japan, Korea, China, and Mongolia, etc.  Importanly, the sea-ports of Khabarovsk Krai and Vladivostok along the Sea of Okhotsk can directly connected to Thailand’s Lam-Chabang Eastern Seaboard. There is a bright investment future in the Russian Far-East Region and as a matter of fact, a Thai company, Sutech Engineering Co. Ltd., is in the process of building a Sugar Refinery Plant in Khabarovsk Krai, taking advantage of the port zone “Sovetskaya gavan”.  The project is designed as the state of the art sugar refinery complex with logistic area and vessel terminal with annual capacity of 500,000 metric tons.  As part of the “ASEAN Consortium”, this project is co-financing by a Malaysian company and the total amount of investment is 300 million US Dollars: 200 million in construction of the plant, and 100 million in the infra-structure and equipment expenses.
Q. This year the TRCC is celebrating its 10th anniversary on November 3rd, and the TRCC is organizing the Seminar on the “Thai-Russian Business, Investment & Cooperation” which raises a great attention of the Thai and Russian newspapers and media. So, who are the key participants to this important seminar, and what is the outcome?
Dr. Sombat.  We have always been receiving great attention and distinguished audiences in our seminars.  The first group of audience is our members where at least 30 companies has participated. Our members list can be viewed through our website and, you may also find some valuable and interesting information from our website. Other than that, we have representatives from the Board of Trade of Thailand, Thai Bankers Association, Board of Investment, Thai-Russian Business Council, Russian Trade Representation, Joint Foreign Chamber of Commerce in Thailand, Center for Russian Study – Chulalongkorn University, Department of Russian Language – Thammasart University, Nation News Network, Co. Ltd., The Phuket Gazette Co., Ltd., Russia Beyond The Headlines, the Advertising Association of Thailand, and Tourism Authority of Thailand, etc. It will be crowed for sure! It means, our activity became known and respected not only within the Thai business community, but also among related Russian counterparts and governmental agencies.  
The outcome from this seminar is the point-of-departure to a strong ignition of the Thai and Russian business-communities to stand up and shake the unfortunate slow-pace of economic growth, and starting to speed up into a bigger scale of trade and investment between the two countries.  Sutech’s Far East investment example, as well as the CP Group who is exploring opportunities for investment into its livestock Feed-Farm-Food-Trade business in Russia as well.

We need more attention, we need more movement, and we need more interaction between the business sectors of the two countries. Now the world economic is in a slow pace, but let’s prepare ourselves to be ready for the faster pace when the economic is picked up in few years.  Do not wait to drain-off, but be always active and be ready to execute, when the time comes! We do need cooperation from everyone.  Mr. Dhanin Chearavanont, the Chairman of the CP Group and the richest person in Thailand ranked by Forbes 2015 said, “the more crisis you face, the more opportunity you will get”. Therefore, let’s work together to convert crises into opportunities for all Thai and Russian. How about that! Yeahhhhh. 

Q. What topics did you discuss in the Novermber 3rd seminar, and who do you invited as speakers to draw audiences’ attention?
Dr. Sombat. I am so proud to mention our honorary, keynote, and distinguished speakers, starting from the Honorary Ambassador H.E. Dr. Kirill Barsky, then Mr. Nutthakrit Sivasri as the Keynote speaker from CP who is the biggest Thai investor in Russia.
Then it was the moment of the media block, where the President of Nation News Network, Mr. Pana Janviroj gave his views of the Thai and Russian media cooperation.  The Russian Beyond The Headlines (RBTH) by Mr. Eugine Abov spoke about “Current images of Russia in Thailand and ASEAN”, where his ideas have been supported by Ms. Mawzia Madni, who shared her rich working experience for the Times Group.
Although Russian tourism business generates a tremendous income to Thailand, however, we are facing some kind of economic difficulty, therefore, the Deputy Governor of the TAT (Tourism Authority of Thailand), Mr. Visanu Jaroensilp, addressed a scenario of how to bring back more Russian tourists to Thailand.  And this was not the end yet, the head of research of the Thai Farmers Bank (K-Bank) Dr. Siwet Luangsomboon informed the audiences on the means of money transferring to and from Thailand and Russia, as well as the currency transactions via Thai Baht and Russian Ruble.


Last but not least, this will be ‘the talk of the town’ regarding the Russian investment in Thailand.  As you all know that the best caviar on earth is made from Russian Sturgeon fish.  Mr. Noppadon Khamsai, the Managing Director of the Thai Sturgeon Farm Co., Ltd. together with his co-owner Mr. Alexey Tyutin had surprised all the audiences with the unbelievable innovation of creating a sturgeon fish farm in Hua-Hin, Thailand.  This project was amazing and I myself never thought it is possible to raise sturgeon fish in the warm climate like Thailand. This is truly an astounishing idea that an SME firm has the strong believe that they can do it successfully.  This project received a great deal of assistance from the TRCC and TRCC’s executive members who put together a great effort to make the ‘dream comes true’ for Noppadon and Alexey. This is truly wonderful! When you see this great example, please think what incredible ideas you can bring to Thailand, or what incredible ideas you can bring to Russia! Everything is possible, think carefully, think deep and hard, and think out of the box, then you will have a new business for yourself successfully. It is not easy, but only you who can make it happens! Come on, let’s work together. TRCC will support you with any document you may need. You can take my words for it!
Q.  What kind of services the TRCC provides for its members regarding the Thailand-Russia bilateral trade and investments?
TRCC is a non-profitable organization, we do not involv in lawmaking or doing any business negotiations for our members. We are practically carry on with a principal and a solid goal aiming to assist our members-businessmen with business matching, suggestions, supporting documents, for example, Thailand’s Board Of Investment (BOI) taxes and benefits, etc.  TRCC members compose of mostly Thai big and medium companies – as well as Russian companies.  At present, Thai SMEs are also presented in Russia, for example in Spa business, restaurants and fresh-produce shops that sell food, including fresh fruits and vegetables, etc. We are certain that the economic situation is changing for better, and Thailand will be more active on the Russian markets in the near future.
Q. How do you think Thailand investment can be increased in Russia and in what sectors?
Dr. Sombat. First of all, I see a visible growth of investments the agricultural areas. I give you an example. In September, the “CPF Netherlands BV” as the subsidiary company of the Charoen Pokphand Group (CPG) signed the agreement to acquire the largest Russia’s north-western region CJSC Poultry Parent Stock Production “Woyskovitsy” and CJSC Poultry Production “Severnaya” at the amount of $680 million, which is considered to be the fifth largest poultry producers in Russia with the market share of 5%.  Experts believe that this deal is one of the first in the new trend of the M&A (Merger & Acquisition) in the poultry area in Russia.  
Regarding the Far Eastern Region of Russia, there are lots of opportunities waiting there.  After Sutech Engineering Co. Ltd. from Thailand set foot in Khabarovsk Krai, I believe that many other Thai companies will follow.  Makro who is the largest wholesale retailer in Thailand is seeking seafood business engagement from the Far East Russian.
One of our TRCC member PTT, who is the largest State Enterprises in Thailand in oil and gas business is also looking for business opportunities with the Russian, etc. 
The high ranking officials of the two countries are visiting each other during 2014-2016, and this may draw much more cooperation and increasing trade and investment in many areas of: agriculture, automobile and parts, steel, oil and gas, fertilizer, electronics, and possible some infra-structure projects, i.e., railways, and center for machine and equipment maintenance, etc.  The commercial aircrafts and helicopters is another potential area to grow into the future.
Q.  At present, do you see any obstacles or difficulties in Thai-Russian trade?
Yes, I do.  I see some difficulties, especially in different mentality, culture, and languages which makes it difficult to engage business negotiation, trade and investment.  This obstacle is not a problem for large enterprise, but it is still a threat for SMEs of the two countries to pursue.  The Executive Director of TRCC, Dr. Sourat Rakhimbabaev is constantly delivering weekly and monthly newsletter reporting on economic information and situation of politics, economic events, and forecasting on Russian currency, interest and inflation rates, for our members, etc.
Another obstacle is the financial transactions to facilitate bilateral trade and investments between the two countries.  Fostering an inter-bank cooperation is necessary and one of the Thai largest bank, the “Thai farmers Bank” or “K-Bank”, is currently working on this matter to explore ways to strengthen the inter-banking interaction and smoothening the trade settlement, including possibility of using local currencies either Thai baht and/or Russian Ruble.  Last week, an initial meeting between the representatives of the K-Bank and the Bank of Thailand (BOT) was conducted at the office of TRCC to exchange information for the important meeting between the BOT and the Central Bank of Russia in Bangkok sometimes in December 2015.
Q. What about Russian investments in Thailand? Can you name some?
Oh, many Russian business people are wise and smart.  They have invested in the real estate projects in the Thailand’s popular tourism areas such as Pattaya , Phuket and Samui.  A number of bars and restaurants are owned by Russian in these areas, as well as many other related services such as legal office, shops, and Thai spa parlor, etc.  I would like to suggest that, Russian investors may consider in making products from rubber, where Thailand is world’s number 1 rubber exporter world.  While rubber price is extremely low and export of Thai rubber is dramatically decreased, this may be a big opportunity for Russian investors to produce rubber value-added products such as tires for exporting.  There is a great and brilliant example of a Thai-Russian company who recently invested in Hua-Hin in southern Thailand. As I mentioned earlier, the “Thai Sturgeon Farm Co., Ltd.” who plans to supply caviar to the high end hotels and restaurants in Thailand.  The Recirculation Aquaculture System (RAS) is used to produce 2 tons of black caviar a year.  This is a vertical-integrated structure which combines the breeding facilities, cutting department, departments of cold and hot smoking, packaging and the construction of necessary infrastructure and utilities. Although Hong-Kong and Macau markets are aimed, perhaps when the business grows to its peak, extensions can be made for exports throughout the world with famous Sturgeon Caviar from Thailand. Wow, what a brilliant idea!
Dr. Sourat. Thank you very much Dr. Sombat for your interesting information and for your time. Wish you and the Thai-Russian Chamber of commerce success and prosperity.


Dr. Sombat. On TRCC’s part, I would like to deliver cordial and sincere thanks to the Russian Embassy, The Russian Trade Representation, and Russia Beyond The Headlines newspaper for continuing the necessary supports for all endeavors of the Thai-Russian Chamber of Commerce.  I will continue to promote friendly and mutually beneficial trade, investment, and economic cooperation with Russia Federation for years to come.  Thank you very much and have a nice day!

Eastern Economic Forum took place in Vladivostok on September 3-5, 2015





Russia’s first ever Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Vladivostok welcomed more thank 4 000 guests from all over the world.  during its schedule 3 working days sessions from September 3-5-th.  The Forum is unique in its scale and the level of expertise of its participants as a platform for constructive dialog between representatives of the international investment community, business, and the governments of both Russia and the countries of the Asia-Pacific Region (APR). Due to objectives of EEF include:


to improve relations between the international investment community, Russian business, and Federal and local governments;



-a comprehensive expert assessment of the economic potential of East Russia, as well as the improvement of the competitiveness and investment attractiveness of the region, both at the Russian and international level;



-the presentation of new conditions for investments and doing business by means of exclusive procedures created for East Russia – the Territory of Priority Development and the Free Port of Vladivostok


main discussions of the Forum have been focused on the mentions topics.

Upon the arrival  in Vladivostok on September 3, 2015,  the President of Russia Vladimir Putin informed that he plans to participate in the Eastern Economic Forum and meet with oil and gas industry representatives and also with China’s Vice Premier Wang Yang who is taking part in Forum events.

On September 4, Vladimir Putin gave a  speech  in the  Forum and participants noted  that the current situation in the Russian economy and the Far East region’s investment attractiveness were the main subjects of the President’s address. Right after that Vladimir Putin met with oil and gas sector workers on the sidelines of EEF. In his remarks the President noted in particular that the oil and gas sector is one of the Russian economy’s key economic sectors, and Russia is one of the world’s leading producers of oil and gas and petroleum products, and one of the biggest energy resource exporters. Mr Putin said he hopes that Russia’s oil and gas companies will continue to become more effective and competitive and reach new heights.

At the Forum a  package of documents was signed, which include a cooperation agreement between RusHydro and VTB Bank, a package of agreements between Rosneft and ONGC on the Indian corporation’s entry into the Vankor project, and a memorandum between Sollers and Mazda on an investment project to build and develop car and car engine production in the Far East.
Agreements were also signed on an investment project to build the Amur gas processing plant, projects to develop coal fields on Sakhalin and the Bering Coal Basin, construction of a floating nuclear power station in the town of Pevek in Chukotka Autonomous Area, and construction of a plant to produce bitumen and petroleum products in the Khabarovsk priority development zone and also with the Thai company  Sutech Engineering on construction of the sugar plant in Khabarovsk’s port.
On September 4, Vladimir Putin answered Russian journalists’ questions on current issues, in particular, the Russian economy’s development outlook, oil prices, Russia’s social policy, the situation in Ukraine, Europe’s response to the flood of refugees from the Middle East and North Africa, and the fight against terrorism. Vladimir Putin had a brief meeting with Vice Premier of the People’s Republic of China State Council Wang Yang, who represented China at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok.
Mr. Putin and Mr. Wang exchanged views on ways to implement planned joined projects in the Far East. The President said he is sure that Russia’s Chinese partners will show great interest in the Far East region’s economic potential.

On September 3 – 5, the Forum will be attended by  four thousand guests, including more than a thousand participants from 24 countries of the world with the largest delegations arriving from China, Japan, Korea, Singapore and Malaysia. The event was covered by 700 accredited journalists from leading Russian and international media outlets. More than 80 agreements worth nearly 1.3 trillion rubles have already been signed at the Forum. 



A dialogue with the Russian Trade representative for Thailand




From the outset I want to point that our talk is  an interview. Indeed, in interview, one tells and usually it is his goal simply to recommend his company, and advertise himself. I would wish that we had a dialogue and we could talk openly, otherwise, the article filled with adds would be not  interesting to readers. So there will be two interlocutors: the Russia's trade representative in Thailand Oleg Maslennikov and Executive director of the Thai-Russian chamber of commerce Surat Rakhimbabaev. Less words, more action

 I guess it is clear that my special interest is in positive steps in the Russian-Thai business relations. The present situation with falling Russian ruble and Thai Baht does not leave hopes for business renaissance between two countries. According to the Russian statistics the trade turn over in a first half of the year dropped on …. %. At the same time  we have got a  great target to increase trade turn over by 10 billion US dollars by 2017. The economic situation does not show positive signed for business recovery and buoyancy. We heard, the  Russians expressed their intention to develop cooperation with Thailand in the field of civil aviation and  proposed a discussion to promote “MC-21” and ‘SSJ 100’ aircrafts in Thailand. Actually, Thailand welcomes Russia’s direct contact with  the interested private aviation companies in Thailand. After the Sixth session of the joint Russian-Thai commission on bilateral cooperation? which  took place in Moscow in July this year both  countries  took note of the recent signing of the purchase contract of “Sukhoi Superjet” by the Thai government. On top of it, Russia also proposed that State owned company “Helicopters of Russia” holds expert consultations with state and private Thai agencies on a range of Russian helicopters that will be suitable for civil use. Is it one and only big deal of the present cooperation and the Commission’s results.



Mr. Maslennikov: I need to say about more point sof cooperation. Just for example,  the Russian  “United Engine-building Corporation” OJSC with Thai energy companies in the field of the construction of power plants, gas-fueled reciprocating power plants, as well as cogeneration power plants based on Russian gas-turbine technologies. Another promising project of both countries is

the possibility of Russian companies' to participate in the Thai program of railroad network development, both inter-city and suburban, particularly by supplying the track-laying and road-building equipment, through international tender, including supplying freight wagons and tank containers of different types for the development program, construction or modernization of the National Railways of Thailand.

And probably, one of the most ambitious project of two countries is the developing cooperation between Russian giant “Gazprom” and Thai companies to supply of LNG to Thailand under competitive price. Thailand  took note of the Russian “Arctic LNG Project” and the possibility of cooperation on LNG supplies under competitive price in the future.

One more hot topic is  Russia noted the successful experience of large-scale satellite navigation projects implemented by Russia’s  Navigation Services Provider “GLONASS Union” may be replicated in Thailand




Mr. Rakhimbabaev: It was noted, Thailand and Russia just finished detailed discussion on adoption of the “Program of Russian-Thai Scientific and Technical Cooperation (2015 – 2020)”, which has been drafted.  What this program is about? Mr. maslennikov: The program contents projects in the field of science, technology and innovations made in the interests of social and economic development of Russia and Thailand.

Moreover, recognizing the need to prepare our human resources to meet the changing demand of the global marketplace, both countries devoted the great importance to the exchange of students, teachers, and researchers and the promotion of Thai Studies and Russian Studies and of the teaching of Thai l and Russian languages. With regard to our relations in the sphere of culture and education, Russia plans to continue to train Thai students at its universities. providing them the state scholarships for these purposes. Russia stressed down, that this is an important investment in the future of two countries’  relations and  agreed to prepare an extensive program of cultural events to celebrate the anniversary of Russia and Thailand’s  diplomatic relations in 2017, and to publish a collection of archival documents. So, these topics also were in the focus of our attention.

Mr.Rakhimbabaev: I want to remind that during his visit in Thailand in April 2015, the Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev noted that tourism is an important area of our cooperation and also allows our people to understand each other better. “Thailand has become a favorite holiday destination for vast numbers of the Russian people. Last year, about 1.6 million Russian tourists visited Thailand. But that was last year, this summer Thai tourist operators report about  a serious drop  of Russian tourists and that is  a whop on the Thailand’s  economy.




Mr. Maslennikov: Russia and Thailand decided to promote the development and strengthening of bilateral dialogue in culture, tourism and environmental protection, adaptation to global warming, and the promotion of green and sustainable development, among other  things, the sharing of best practices of  "green" growth and development "green" cities in order to promote sustainable development in both countries. Unfortunately, this year  tourist’s flow from Russia to Thailand  seriously run aground, probably on forty percent compare to the same period of the last year. Definitely, Thai colleagues are willing to provide assistance and support in stabilizing  these issues and we all hope that by the pick season the  Russians get back to Thailand’s  resorts. But I do not think that at present the absence of Russian tourists gives a “whop” as you say. Tourists from China already invaded this gap.

 Mr.Rakhimbabaev: Business is waiting for fruitful results from cooperation. Let us  not go off like a damp squib. Less words, more action.




    Russian PM visits Bangkok. TRCC Press release



 The Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev arrived in Thailand on Tuesday, 7-th April for a visit aimed at expanding trade and the ruling military will be keen to highlight international support. Mr. Medvedev's two-day visit is the first by a Russian prime minister in 25 years and follows criticism from some Western countries and the United Nations of sweeping security powers granted to the military last week after martial law was lifted in most areas.

Thailand has stepped up engagement with both China and Russia in response to cooler ties with old ally the United States and other Western countries worried about the suspension of democracy and curtailment of some human rights. Thailand accused the United States in February of meddling in its political affairs

The Russian premier  and Gen Prayut Chan-ocha have hold talks on Wednesday, where they  focused on enhancing bilateral economic relations, .Russia and Thailand have sign five memorandums of understanding on Wednesday 8 of April on increasing cooperation on energy, investment, suppressing drug crime, tourism and culture. Russia has also shown interest in buying rubber from Thailand, the world's biggest grower and exporter of the commodity, and Mr. Medvedev was expected to follow up on earlier talks on cooperation with Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha. The talks were preceded by an official meeting ceremony at which Chan-o-cha expressed the desire to focus on the issues of cooperation in the spheres of trade and investments during his meeting with Medvedev. Chan-o-cha expressed certainty that any problems in the relations between Russia and Thailand can be solved and asked Medvedev to convey best wishes to the Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Russian Prime Minister has expressed interest  not only in rubber but also in Thai agriculture productsDmitry Medvedev wished Thai government success with the reforms it is currently conducting.

The ruble's decline in last year is exacting a toll on Southeast Asian tourism as Russians think twice about their next beach holiday in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. According to official statistics Russian tourists down 8.6 % compare to the same period 2014. Talks aimed at enticing Russian visitors to Thailand despite the Russian currency's depreciation are high on the agenda 


Mr Medvedev's entourage includes Russian Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov, who   discussed with his Thai counterpart collaboration in civil aircraft manufacturing, the automotive industry,. And the Russian Prime minister with his colleagues had a fruitful meeting with the Chairmen and CEOs of the leading Thai companies, including SCG, CP Group, PTT, Loxley, Kasicornbank and others.,  Mr.Medvedev also stopped at Bangkok's glittering Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha..
In his press conference the Russian Prime Minister said “ during our first meeting we agreed to intensify the relations [between our two states] and we believe that absolutely all the conditions for doing so are currently in place”.




A Russian romance that's now bearing fruit

 “The Nation”, November 25, 2014

from an interview with The Nation's Suthichai Yoon, Russian Ambassador to Thailand Kirill Barsky discusses relations between Thailand and his country



Q: How do you plan to strengthen relations between Thailand and Russia?


A: First of all, I would like to say that Thailand and Russia have a long tradition of friendship, which was established in late 19th century by HM the King Rama V and Russia's Tzar Nicholas II. It is a very rare thing between two nations. In the year 2017, we will celebrate the 120th anniversary of diplomatic relations. This is our great asset based on an amazing foundation for promotion of cooperation. It is a good opportunity to promote our relations, starting with political dialogue between our leaders, economic and trade cooperation, cultural and people-to-people exchange. I'm sure that we are on the threshold of a new stage of the relations between Thailand and Russia. 

Q: Russia is coming back to Asia... 

A: Well, Russia never left it. We have been here. Geographically speaking, Russia is a part of Asia. Historically speaking, we have had relations with Asia for a very long time. The Soviet Union, Russia's predecessor, granted assistance to many Asia nations in their struggle for independence and supported them in building their economies in 20th century. Russia, as the successor of Soviet Union, has continued those relations with most Asian countries. Now we are eager to take part in many new developments in the region, joining the integration in the Asia-Pacific region. We do this for the stake of ourselves and for the sake of regional security, stability and prosperity. 

Q: The United States is talking about its pivot to Asia - a rebalance of power to Asia-Pacific. Are you trying to balance US influence?

A: No, the world has changed. It is no longer a world dominated by one country or one military block. We are moving very quickly to a multipolar world. Like it or not, this is the reality - and it should be reflected in multilateral relations. What we need now is not the leadership of one country but a collective leadership of all Asia. Asia should belong to all of us. Russia is trying to play the role of a country that offers a uniting and positive agenda, coming up with interesting proposals on security cooperation, economic integration, etc. We are willing to join hands with all Asian nations.  

 Q: So you don't see a threat of a new cold war from confrontation with the US?


A: I believe in reasonable political forces in the world … all countries want a peaceful world. Nobody wants cold war or conflict. Russia is a country that wishes to have good relations with the European Union, Asian countries and, of course, the US. But what we also want from our partners is respect for our position, and to conduct dialogue and cooperation on an equal basis. 

Q: Do you regard the economic sanctions against Russia over Ukraine as confrontation?

A: No, the sanctions are illegal and unfair. We are the victims of the sanctions, which are based on the desire of certain political forces. It is ridiculous to limit Russia's economic development. The sanctions contradict the reality of today's world, which is looking for cooperation and integration. But we do not care. 

Q: Do you want supply from Asia to cope with the sanctions?


A: Today's world is multipolar. The world is not limited to just the US or the European Union. Russia has plenty of good friends and partners all over the world. We are seeking new markets, looking for new partners and exploring opportunities for cooperation. Of course, we are not turning our back on Europe. Europe has been, is and continues to be our major partner, but Asia-Pacific is the most dynamic economy in the world. Of course, there are huge opportunities offered by China, India, Asean, Japan, Korea, and of course we are already working closely. Russia is reaffirming commitment to promotion of cooperation with Asia-Pacific.

: The US and the EU say you have more or less invaded Ukraine. 

A: No, there are no Russian troops in Ukraine. They cannot be, since we respect international law. How can we. I hope the open-minded people of Thailand and open-minded mass media will dismantle this theory in your coverage. What Russia stands for is the principle of non-interference in the domestic affairs of a country. We are against “coloured”-revolutions, and this is what is happening in Ukraine. The US and the EU supported a coup d'etat, which discriminated against a number of the populace. The only thing they can do is to resist, defend their interests. The majority of people in the eastern part and southern Ukraine are Russian-speakers. Many have affiliations with Russian citizens living in Russia. They have relatives. But, Russia has a view that conflict in Ukraine should be resolved by peaceful means by parties concerned - between the authorities in Kiev and the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic. What Russia can do is to facilitate the institution of agreement. 

Q: What about the coup in Thailand, what is Russia's position? 

A: Well, Russia is a democratic country so we believe that all problems in Thailand should be resolved in a democratic way through dialogue and peaceful means within the constitutional framework. But how to achieve this is in the hands of the people of Thailand. We cannot interfere in the domestic affairs of Thailand. Only the people of Thailand know what to do and how to do it. But as a friendly country, we are ready to promote good relations and to maintain contact with the interim government for cooperation. We don't see any obstacle to that. Relations will not be affected. We will maintain political contact and economic cooperation. A joint committee on economic relations and the sub-commission on trade will meet in Moscow in late November and pave the way to the signing of agreements between government agencies and private companies on many areas of cooperation.

Q: Russian investment in Thailand is still quite limited. How do you propose to expand it?


A: Investment is bilateral. We are interested in more investment. CP has investment in agriculture in Russia and at the same time Russia wants to invest more in Thailand, including in the energy sector. We have signed a memorandum of understanding on the use of nuclear power. We will start with small things but in the future we could have full cooperation in this field. The construction of hydropower plants, export of Russian energy equipment to Thailand, the construction of electricity transmission lines, and infrastructure development are also sectors of interest. Our investment in industrial zones is another option. 

Last but not least, the Russian community is huge here in Thailand, with investments in such areas such as property, retail, jewelry and IT. I'm sure our investment in Thailand, along with Japanese investment, contributes to the Thai economy.

Tourism also has big potential. Last year 1.7 million Russian tourists visited Thailand and we expect more this year. The trend is growing. Every year the number of Russian tourists increases 20-40 per cent. Russians have a longstanding "romance" with Thais. The people of Russia are in love with Thailand. Perhaps there is a chemistry between the Russian and Thai people. Or maybe compatible national characteristics, values and the way of life make Russian people feel comfortable with Thais. 

 Q: Do you have plans to sell more Russian products here?


A: Yes, not only in traditional areas such as oil and agriculture. We are also looking at non-traditional exports, such as military equipment, from Russia to Thailand. We have a lot to offer. Russian weapons are famous all over the world. We have registered interest from the Thai Army in purchasing more arms and equipment such as helicopters and aircraft. We will start here and move to other areas of cooperation such as tanks and armored vehicles, submarines and so on.



H.E. Kirill Barskiy, the new  Ambassador of the Russian Federation  to Thailand  talks about  his initial steps in  a new place and Russia’s  foreign policy. “Thailand is the second largest economy in Southeast Asia. It has modern industry and far-reaching plans for development. For Russia, it is a very important and promising partner and in many different areas. Take, for example, the growing demand  of the Thai economy for hydro-carbons and electric energy. Cooperation with Russian companies  in the areas of oil and gas extraction, hydro-electric station construction and peaceful nuclear energy would help Bangkok solve many potential problems .Russia is prepared  to actively support the implementation of Thailand’s ambitious infrastructure development plan.”

 H.E. Kirill Barskiy, the new  Ambassador of the Russian Federation  to Thailand  talks about  the US and European Union  imposed  sanctions on Russia because of Ukrainian crisis. “Today, it is clear to any reasonable, unbiased observer that the sanctions imposed  by the USA and several other  countries on Russia have the purpose of  weakening  Russia and “punishing”  Moscow  for independent  domestic and foreign policy. Ukraine is just an excuse . From the point of view of international law, these sanctions are illegitimate and flimsy pretexts  were  found for their imposition. If there had been no Ukraine, they would have found something else. There is no international isolation of Russia and there cannot be. Most countries do not share in or support such a policy.  The USA and Europe are not the whole world. Russia has many reliable partners and good friends. In order to prove this  it will suffice to list just a few  of our recent  foreign policy successes: Vladimir Putin’s  visit to China in May, the signing of the Treaty on the Establishment of the Eurasian Economic Union on 25 May, the BRICS July summit in Brazil and the Russian president’s tour of Latin America”. 

H.E. Kirill Barskiy, the new  Ambassador of the Russian Federation  to Thailand  talks about essence of what happened in Ukraine. “ In February this year an unconstitutional coup took place in Kiev with a direct support of the USA and European Union. The legitimate head of state was overthrown  by force. As a result of the coup,  a  group of populist right-wing radical politicians came to power and turned the course towards Europeans integration  to the detriment  of Ukraine’s traditional ties with Russia. which a significant part of the country’s population  did not support, especially in southern and southeastern Ukraine.   The adoption of a law prohibiting the use of the Russian language and the nascent persecution of those who did not agree with the policies of the new rulers  of Ukraine provoked the formation in many regions of the country  mass social movements calling for protection of the legitimate interests. Instead of working to attain the national consensus Kiev unleashed a war on its own people  that has yet to end. From the very beginning  Russia  has stood for the peaceful resolution of the conflict in Ukraine. At present, in part as a result of Moscow’s efforts, a long awaited truce has been archived in Southeast Ukraine. Russia will do everything in its power to facilitate this process.”

  H.E. Kirill Barskiy, the new  Ambassador of the Russian Federation  to Thailand  tells, if Crimea could become a dangerous precedent for the solution of territorial disagreements in Southeast Asia. “The history of Crimea is absolutely unique. Crimea is originally Russian land that illegally ended up under the jurisdiction of another state twice in the past 60 years – in 1954 and 1991. In the first case, Nikita Khrushev, the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU (Communist party in USSR- noted by TRCC),did it in violation of the Constitution of the RSFSR (Russian Federation Socialist Republic in Soviet Union- noted by TRCC)  ”giving” the Crimea Oblast (region- noted by TRCC) of the Russian Federation the Ukrainian SSR. And 37 years later Boris Yeltsin, the President of RSFSR, agreed at the time of Soviet Union disintegration to leave Crimea in Ukraine, through he did not have the authority to do so. It is no accident that after the coup in Kiev, 97% of Crimea’s inhabitants voted for this territory’s independence in the referendum of March 16. The territorial disputes in Southeast Asia are of a completely different nature. The most bitter of them is the dispute over the islands and waters of the South China Sea. Its essence is the difficulty of resolving the issue of territorial demarcation when several parties make conflicting claims on various sections of the land and sea. Russia is convinced that the path to the solution of this complex problem lies solely in peaceful and politico-diplomatic means where negotiations continue between participants in the territorial dispute and where there is no internationalization and meddling from without. At the same time, it is necessary to work out and adopt a code of conduct in the South China Sea as soon as possible to insure its compliance by all interested sides, and with it guarantee the security of shipping in the region. It would also be useful to come to an agreement on the staged implementation of military sphere confidence-building measures in the waters of the South China Sea.”





Russia seeks closer defense cooperation


Russia is ready to sell weapons to Thailand as Moscow wants to see a new era of military and security cooperation between the two nations in order to combat transnational crime and terrorism,


Russian Ambassador Kirill Barskiy said to “The Nation”  


This would translate into a closer cooperation between the two national armies, which could be built within the ASEAN disaster-management scheme, which involves regional defense ministers and dialogue partners, he said.

Also, the envoy said, the focus would be on strengthening security, promoting confidence-building measures and a more balanced regional architecture of security In the future.

Mr. Barskiy, who took the post in Bangkok this August, said he was also keen on promoting mutual ties between the two countries and also in other areas such as political dialogue, tourism and investment.

He said he wished to build good relations in a peaceful and prosperous way, even though he happens to have been posted under an unelected Thai government.

He pointed out that Russia is a democracy and, hence believes that all problems in Thailand should be resolved in a democratic manner through peaceful dialogue within the constitutional and legal framework.

"How this is achieved is in the hands of the people of Thailand. It is Russia's national character to not interfere with other countries' domestic affairs," Barskiy told Nation Multimedia Group Chairman Suthichai Yoon in a recent interview. "Only the people of Thailand know best what to do and how to do it."

Russia can help and will always be ready to promote cooperation and contact with the Thai interim government, the ambassador said.

There are projects and commissions in bilateral trade, agriculture and investment that the two countries have established and developed together that are not affected by politics. The ambassador pointed out that CP Group's investment in Russia was already well-established and had proved to be successful.

Russia will be expanding investment in Thailand's energy sector, and the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on the peaceful use of nuclear energy in September. Ambassador Barskiy said that though the start was small, he hoped the two nations would have a full-fledged cooperation on this in the near future.

In terms of tourism, the ambassador said he was well aware of the huge Russian communities in the Kingdom, especially in Pattaya and Phuket. As many as 1.7 million Russians visited Thailand last year, and the envoy said he expects the number to rise by 20 to 30 per cent in the years ahead.

Extracts from “The Nation”, November 6, 2014

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