The commander of the Cambodian army and his Russian counterpart announced their intention to ink a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that will boost cooperative ties between the armies of the two countries, according to a June 17 press release from the Royal Cambodian Army.

The release was issued as General Mao Sophan, commander of the Cambodian Army and deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF), prepared to embark on a three-day visit to Russia from June 18-20, where he is meeting with his Russian counterpart Oleg Salyukov.

“The meeting is aimed at strengthening and expanding cooperation between the armies of both countries,” it said.

“During the visit, the commanders of the Cambodian and Russian armies will sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on cooperation between their respective land forces to boost and strengthen cooperation between the two armies, in the spirit of traditional friendship, respect and mutual support,” it added.

In March, Sophan led a military delegation to China, where he met with General Li Qiaoming, the commander of the army of the Chinese People's Liberation Army.

Kin Phea, director of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, believed that the development of military relations between Cambodia and Russia appears to be based on their traditional friendship, which dates back to the Cold War.

He noted that overall, the Kingdom’s defence relations with many other countries have improved, although he acknowledged that joint military exercises with the US have not resumed since they were suspended.

Military drills with the US, most notably the joint military exercise “Angkor Sentinel” have not been held since 2016.

“Cambodia is not expanding its security or defence relations or cooperation with any nation or group of nations for the purpose of making war, or threatening another nation or bloc,” he explained.

“If we examine the will of the Cambodian government, it is clear that they wish to expand defence relations and cooperation with all countries. This is based on the principles of respect for the sovereignty, independence and internal affairs of all nations,” he added.