The Dictator has been in Russia. He was there for the ASEAN-Russia Summit (19-20 May) and like all of the other ASEAN leaders, he met another authoritarian leader, Vladimir Putin, the Russian president.
In a pretty standard announcement from the Kremlin, some of the early talk between the two is reproduced.
Putin said it was a “great pleasure to meet you [The Dictator] personally.” He noted that Prayuth had met with Russia’s prime minister and “signed a number of important agreements.”
Thailand’s big boss responded, making a big deal of the upcoming 120th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries, as if nothing had changed in the intervening years. He then said: “We want to thank Russia for the support that has helped us to maintain our independence.”
If anyone has any idea what this means, let us know.
He went on to state that this visit was the most significant of his time as prime minister-dictator:
I have eight ministers with me on this visit. This is the biggest delegation yet on my foreign visits. I also sent two deputy prime ministers in advance of my trip to prepare for this visit in order to make it a success.
We signed 14 agreements yesterday: 9 state agreements and 5 private ones. We will implement these agreements and achieve concrete results.
Yesterday, my ministers had the chance to meet personally with their counterparts here. We discussed ways to increase our trade turnover five-fold over the next five years. I think that we can achieve even greater results over this time.
It seems that Russia is moving center stage for the military dictatorship. This certainly reflects its failures with the USA and EU and also indicates that the hype about China has been, well, hype. That said, just as China trails Japan by a country mile in terms of investment, Russia isn’t even in sight.
With the dictatorship looking like it will stay on for years, the relationships with other authoritarian regimes will be important. (We’d hope that the Thai people prevent the junta from fulfilling its authoritarian plans.)