Friday, December 3rd, 2021

An admiral inspection ceremony will take place on the Russian destroyer Admiral Panteleyev during a joint exercise between the Indonesian Navy, the Russian Navy and the ASEAN Navy. – AFP

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JAKARTA (The Jakarta Post / Asia News Network): Russia held its first joint naval exercise with ASEAN member states in the Strait of Wednesday (December 1st) Malacca started the increasingly competitive Indo-Pacific region.

The exercise aims to improve interoperability between the participating navies and improve regional security on the sea trade route, a strategic bottleneck that connects the Indian and Pacific Oceans and 40 percent of the World trade facilitated.

The three-day exercise, known as the Asean-Russia Naval Exercise 2021 (Arnex 2021), was held in waters connecting Belawan in northern Sumatra and Sabang in Aceh, with Indonesia as the host.

The location became explored due to its proximity to other ASEAN countries, which allows easier deployment of warships from neighboring countries.

Part of the exercise under the direction of Marine Col Wawan Trisatya s ind a number of warships and aircraft of the Russian Navy and navies of the ASEAN member states.

Indonesia has its Martadinata-class frigate KRI I Gusti Ngurah Rai, while Russia has its destroyer Admiral Panteleyev, a Udaloy-class ship , stationed.

Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam and Brunei have also stationed their own warships, while other member states have sent observers.

The Commander of the First Fleet (Koarmada I) of Indonesia, Rear Admiral Arsyad Abdullah , said the exercise is seen as a strategic step to strengthen military cooperation in the region.

“The importance of this exercise is to establish diplomatic relations that allow military cooperation in the Asean region as well as between ASEAN and Russia Arsyad told reporters on board the KRI Lepu-861 after the opening ceremony on Wednesday.

An d The opening ceremony was attended by Russian Asean Ambassador Alexander Ivanov, Russian Ambassador to Indonesia Lyudmila Vorobieva, naval attachés from ASEAN member states and a representative of the Ministry of Defense.

Ivanov said the joint exercise was a “historic moment” in Asean -Russian cooperation, but emphasized that there was no “hidden agenda” behind the exercises.

The exercise was first proposed by Russia in early 2020, when Indonesia was still the official country coordinator for Asean-Russia relations. The Department of Defense raised the plan at the Asean Defense Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) last December, where it was approved.

Asean conducted similar exercises with the United States in 2019 and China in 2018. Russia’s newfound interest in Southeast Asia follows a hurricane diplomatic engagements by other regional actors, especially the US and China, whose rivalry is increasingly being played out in the Indo-Pacific.

The Indo-Pacific is a strategic reinterpretation of the Asia-Pacific region in terms, which are interpreted differently by different countries and interests, but observers note that it generally aims to exclude China.

Several countries such as Japan, Australia and India have offered their perspective on the region, as have the European Union and individual member states.

Indonesia itself has responded to this strategy competition by proposing the adoption of an Asean perspective on the Indo-Pacific, which promotes an “open, inclusive, transparent and rules-based” order and differs in that it does not China alienated.

Meanwhile, the US has only recently followed suit During a dry spell under former President Donald Trump, renewed her interest in working with ASEAN through high-level visits and participation in their flagship events.

Military analyst Connie Rahakundini Bakrie said Russia’s growing interest in the region was a response to The increasing presence of various military actors, especially in the form of the recently announced security pact between Australia, Great Britain and the USA, called Aukus.

In addition to Aukus, however, the increasing presence of other NATO members in the region, including France, increases its own Indo-Pacific strategy pursues the urgency.

“We’re seeing more players in the region, not just the US and China, so we need a stronger Indonesian navy,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Indo-Pacific surge is coming Interest at a time when Indonesia is in a dilemma with China.

On Tuesday On the 24th day, Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto met virtually with his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe to discuss various bilateral and regional issues, just one day before a report was published on China’s alleged protests against Indonesian drilling activities in the North Natuna Sea.

That The sea borders the highly disputed South China Sea, where some ASEAN member states have been trapped in territorial disputes with China for decades, which claims sovereignty over most of the waters and is building military infrastructure and artificial islands to support.

Reuters claimed in the Report that earlier this year China ordered Indonesia to stop drilling for oil and natural gas in areas of the sea that both countries consider to be their own, to which one legislator, Muhammad Farhan, replied with a resounding “no”.

Farhan stood for further comments not immediately available while a spokesman for the Au State Department said that “diplomatic correspondence is private”. A statute of limitations prevents the disclosure of state secrets only after 30 years.

China and Indonesia have no overlapping territorial claims, but China’s self-proclaimed “nine-dash line” over the South China Sea – which was declared null and void by an international tribunal in 2016 – has led Beijing to insist that it has legitimate rights and interests in “relevant” waters.

Indonesia has denied such claims, including through a diplomatic note to the United Nations Secretary-General last year in which It is alleged that China’s historical claim to the sea “clearly has no international legal basis.”

Rizal Sukma, a senior researcher at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), said if China’s reported protests turn out to be true , it would be against the interests of both sides to maintain Indonesia’s strategic policy n to change autonomy.

“This episode clearly suggests that ‘silent diplomacy’ may have limits. If the problem persists, we may need to inform the Chinese directly and much more forcefully about our concerns and interests, ”he said.

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