One of the great traditions of Thai foreign policy is that of the bamboo bending with the wind, ever-shifting as it refuses to lean too heavily on any single great power. The inescapable realities of being a small state in a dangerous world dominates.
It is not difficult to understand, then, why many Thais naturally gravitate towards a policy of studied neutrality towards the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. The Foreign Ministry’s statement on the issue was anodyne — a note of concern on the “escalation of tensions” and a call for “peaceful settlement to the situation through dialogue.”
In this, Thailand joins most of its Southeast Asian neighbors in a silence that Sebastian Strangio describes in The Diplomat as “an outgrowth of the region’s reflexive diplomatic caution and its honed preference for process over outcome.” But the truth, however, is that even the bamboo bending with the wind will find it difficult to escape getting wet when the sky begins raining. And the thunder of Ukraine’s war with Russia is exactly that.