Mongolia Maintains Neutrality After 6 Months of Ukraine War
The Russian invasion of Ukraine reached six months and Mongolia continues to avoid criticizing the Kremlin. The public survey suggests more than 70 percent of Mongolians do not want to take sides in the war despite a modest opposition demonstration warning of becoming a Kremlin satellite.
A disruption in Russian fuel supplies for a week could bring the economy to a halt as the country’s transportation and energy industries are entirely dependent on its northern neighbor.
46 percent of the public believes Russia to be a trustworthy partner.
So, when Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Ulaanbaatar briefly in July, he was relieved that the country would not become a Russophobic menace next door. Following Lavrov's visit, Mongolia obtained long-term discounted fuel supplies from Rosneft, reducing gasoline and diesel prices in the country.
Efforts to identify non-Russian supplies of gasoline have been futile so far due to the country's geographical isolation between Russia and China. The construction of the country’s first oil refinery backed by India has been delayed during the pandemic years. The refinery, which will be supplied by domestic crude oil, is now anticipated to start in 2025, which is critical to Mongolia's self-sufficiency in petroleum products.
Going forward, Mongolia intends to expand its economic partnership with Russia.
The two countries are now reviving talks on a hydro energy project that Moscow has obstructed due to environmental concerns about Lake Baikal.
Another long-term Mongolian-Russian collaboration is the Power of Siberia 2 natural gas pipeline, construction of which is expected to begin in 2024. The planned 2,600 km pipeline connecting Russia and China via Mongolia will have a capacity of 50 billion cubic meters of gas per year and might be operational by 2030, generating transit fees and gas supplies for the country.
Mongolia has also not changed its collaboration with Russia in other areas.
In August, Mongolia hosted a small-scale joint military training with Russian forces, which preceded larger war games known as Vostok in Russia’s far east.
The drills with Russians were controversial in the public eye, but the officials eased fears by claiming the routine defense and anti-terrorist drills were pre-planned and had taken place annually for the last decade.
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