Prime Minister Hun Sen and Russia’s Secretary of the Security Council Nikolai Patrushev met on December 15 in Phnom Penh to discuss international security issues in the Asia-Pacific region and other matters of concern, with the latter pledging to further expand bilateral ties and cooperation.

“At the meeting, Nikolai Patrushev conveyed the greetings of [President Vladimir Putin]. He also brought along the medal for the Order of Friendship I was awarded for my role in maintaining, strengthening and expanding relations between Cambodia and Russia,” Hun Sen said in a Facebook post on December 15.

The premier said Patrushev told him about the progress on agreements and cooperative efforts between the two countries in the areas of defence, education, trade, energy, technology and information exchange, among others.

“[Patrushev] also informed me that [he] will do his utmost to work with Cambodia on expanding cooperation between our two countries,” said the post.

Hun Sen said he agreed with Patrushev’s assessment of bilateral relations and asked him to examine the possibility of a free trade agreement, within both bilateral and multilateral frameworks.

He also requested that Russia consider making transfers of technology with the equipping of repair workshops, machinery and metal shops in Cambodia.

He thanked the Russia government and people for the support and aid they have long provided to the Kingdom.

The Russian embassy in Cambodia said Patrushev and Hun Sen discussed further plans for Russian-Cambodian cooperation across a range of sectors as well as conferring on a wide array of security issues.

“International security issues with an emphasis on the situation in the Asia-Pacific region were discussed as Patrushev continues his working visit to Phnom Penh to hold Russian-Cambodian security consultations,” it said in a Facebook post on December 15.

Patrushev also met two of the prime minister’s sons during his visit. He met Hun Manith, head of the Ministry of National Defence’s intelligence department, on December 15 and is scheduled to meet Hun Manet, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, on December 16.

Kin Phea, director of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, told The Post on December 15 that common concerns over security in the Indo-Pacific region are one thing that all countries have to pay attention to because it seems that a return to normalcy for the region is unlikely in light of the geopolitical competition between the US and China, which could be signaling that the world is at the start of a second “Cold War” era.

He said Russia appears to be in the process of forming some kind of alliance with China and the other countries that are in competition with the US and its bloc of allies.

“After the end of the first Cold War when the USSR broke up, Russia was no longer a superpower and its influence declined. Even the countries that were former republics of the USSR during the Cold War began looking to the west.

“So I think Russia feels it is time to strengthen its foreign relations – especially in the areas of security, defence and the economy – and rebuild some of its old alliances as the world is potentially entering a new Cold War period,” he said.