On February 28, 2022, the Singapore Foreign Minister announced in Parliament that Singapore intends to impose “appropriate sanctions and restrictions” on Russia, acting in concert with like-minded countries.

Singapore intends to impose export controls on items that can be used directly as weapons in Ukraine to inflict harm, and it will also block certain Russian banks and financial transactions connected to Russia. The specific measures are being worked out and will be announced shortly.

Singapore’s move is the first in Southeast Asia and comes independent of the Association of 10-member Southeast Asian Nations (“ASEAN“) of which it is a member, but the Foreign Minister indicated that Singapore will continue to work with its ASEAN and international partners to take a strong stance.

The Foreign Minister explained that Singapore has taken this rare step to unilaterally impose sanctions in the absence of binding United Nations Security Council (“UNSC“) decisions or directions following Russia’s veto of a draft UNSC resolution related to Ukraine  (which was co-sponsored by Singapore and 81 other UN Member States). Singapore as a “responsible member of the international community”, would also “comply with the spirit and letter” of a similar United Nations General Assembly resolution that is being debated later Monday, notwithstanding that such decision by the United Nations General Assembly is not legally binding on Member States.

While specific details of the proposed Singapore sanctions and restrictions have not been disclosed yet, there is no doubt that the overall effects will very likely be significant given Singapore’s role as a major financial and shipping hub and business hub for many multinational corporations. Reacting to this announcement by Singapore and also earlier announced sanctions by the international community, financial institutions and other companies in Singapore have already been reported to begin ceasing financing and involvement with deals involving Russian companies and Russian oil. 

We anticipate further developments in the coming days and will blog further once additional information has been published.