Jokowi visits bombed-out Ukraine city, calls for war to end

Arie Firdaus
2022.06.29
Jakarta
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Jokowi visits bombed-out Ukraine city, calls for war to end Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo (center) visits an apartment complex destroyed by Russian airstrikes in Irpin, Ukraine, June 29, 2022.
Handout/Press Bureau of the Indonesian Presidential Secretariat

Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo on Wednesday called for an end to war after he inspected the rubble of an apartment complex in the Ukrainian city of Irpin, during a visit there as part of a self-declared peace mission that will also take him to Russia. 

Jokowi, the current chairman of the G20 group of major economies, arrived in Kyiv on a special train from Poland after attending a summit of the G7 group of industrialized countries in Germany, as a guest.

“I was accompanied by the mayor and deputy mayor of Irpin to see the damage caused by the war, and it’s very sad that many houses and infrastructure are in ruins,” he said in a video released by his office. “We hope there won’t be any more cities in Ukraine in ruins because of the war,” he said. 

In a Twitter post, Jokowi wrote: “May the war end soon.”

In a meeting in Kyiv, Jokowi told President Volodmyr Zelenskyy that his visit was “a manifestation of Indonesia's concern for the situation in Ukraine," and emphasized Indonesia's position regarding the importance of respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, according to a statement issued by his office in Jakarta.

“In this context, I offered to deliver a message from President Zelenskyy to [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin, with whom I will meet soon,” he said. 

He said it was imperative that Ukraine be able to export food products unhindered.

Zelenskyy thanked Jokowi for the visit.

“Ukraine appreciates the support of the people of Indonesia and your personal support, Mister President, now as we have a war ongoing for the liberty and the independence of our people,” he said.

Jokowi was scheduled to return to Poland on the same train later in the day before traveling to Russia on Thursday to meet with Putin.

Prior to the trip, Jokowi said he had messages to deliver to Zelenskyy and Putin.

“My mission is to call on Ukrainian President Zelenskyy to open space for dialogue in the context of peace, to build peace, because the war must stop and the food supply chain must be reactivated.”

Jokowi said he would call on Putin “to open space for dialogue and, as soon as possible, enter a ceasefire and stop the war.”

He warned that a global food crisis could send developing and poor countries into “the abyss of extreme poverty and hunger.”  

In March, Indonesia voted for a U.N. General Assembly resolution condemning Russia’s military strike on Ukraine. Despite that vote, Indonesian government leaders have not criticized Moscow directly.

220629-ID-ukraine-inside.jpg
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (left) shakes hands with his Indonesian counterpart, Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, at the Maryinsky Palace in Kyiv, Ukraine, June 29, 2022. [Press Bureau of the Indonesian Presidential Secretariat]

Bali summit

The United States has urged Indonesia to disinvite member-state Russia from the G20 summit, scheduled for November in Bali, but Jakarta so far has refused.

In March, U.S. President Joe Biden said Ukraine should be able to participate in the G20 summit if Russia was not expelled. Indonesia has since invited Zelenskyy as a guest.

On Wednesday, Indonesian officials did not comment on reports from Germany that Jokowi had decided to keep the Russian leader away from Bali.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on the sidelines of the G7 meeting on Tuesday that Jokowi had told him Putin would not attend the G20 summit in person.

“President Widodo excludes it. He was categorical: He’s not coming,” Draghi was quoted as saying by ABC News in Germany.

“What might happen – I don’t know what will happen but what might happen – is perhaps a remote intervention. We’ll see.”

Teuku Faizasyah, spokesman for the Indonesian Foreign Ministry, declined to comment on Draghi’s remarks when contacted by BenarNews. Jokowi’s Presidential Staff Office could not be reached for comment.

On Tuesday, Russian government adviser Yuri Ushakov confirmed that his country had accepted Indonesia’s invitation and was ready to attend the G20 meeting in Bali – although he did not specify whether Putin would attend in person or virtually.

“We have received the invitation and we have responded positively,” Ushakov said, according to Russia’s Interfax news agency.

Tirta Nugraha Mursitama, a professor in international relations at Bina Nusantara University, called Jokowi’s trip “an extraordinary initiative,” but cast doubt on whether he could reconcile the warring countries.

“It’s hard to say if Jokowi’s call for a ceasefire will be heeded,” Tirta told BenarNews. “But I believe the two countries’ leaders will consider Jokowi’s appeal.”

Jokowi is the first Asian head of state to visit Ukraine since Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24.

Teuku Rezasyah, an international political analyst at Padjadjaran University in Bandung, said Jokowi’s visit sent a strong message to the international community that a country as far away as Indonesia had taken this initiative.

“The visit also shows the international community that we refuse to be dictated to by anyone.”

Alvin Prasetyo in Jakarta contributed to this report.

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