Russia In The World is a MEMRI Russian Media Studies Project review of Russia's geopolitical interests and areas of penetration. This edition of Russia In The World deals with Russia's interests in Southeast Asia.
The original image was taken from Studiya 13's Facebook page.
Tu-95 Strategic Bombers In First Ever Pacific Patrol From Indonesia
On December 5, the Russian Defense Ministry announced:
"Two [nuclear-capable] Tu-95MS strategic bombers and two Il-76MD aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces flew from an airfield in the Amur Region to the Biak airfield in the Republic of Indonesia as part of an international visit."
(Tass.com, December 5, 2017)
On December 9, the Russian Defense Ministry also divulged:
"The crews of Tu-95MS strategic bombers made a flight from the Biak airfield [Indonesia] to their base in the Amur region [in the Russian Far East]."
(Tass.com, December 9, 2017)
Lt. Gen. Sergey Kobylash, commander of the Air Forces' Long Range Aviation division, said: "The goal of the flights is to train pilots in navigating in the southern hemisphere as well as confirm the reliability of the control systems. The support logistics of the Biak Airfield was also confirmed during the mission. The planes were prepared for the patrol on schedule."
(Rt.com, December 7, 2017)
Indonesia's Manuhua Biak Air commander Col. Fajar Adriyanto commented that the arrival of Russian planes was part of cooperation between the Indonesian Military (TNI) and Russia that included choosing Biak as the exercise location. Col. Fajar Adriyanto: "The planes fly directly from Russia for 12 hours, and this will be the first time they have flown near the equator… They usually fly in temperatures of minus 37 degrees, now they will fly in plus 37 degrees. So it will really be a 100% change."
(Thejakartapost.com, December 5, 2017)
RT provided further details on Indonesia-Russia military cooperation: "The Indonesian military, currently, has a number of high-tech Russian military hardware in service, including Sukhoi Su-27 and Su-30 fighter jets, Mil Mi-17 and Mi-24 helicopters and BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicles. Moscow and Jakarta are currently negotiating a contract for Su-35 fighters, which, if signed, will make Indonesia the second country after China to acquire the advanced Russian aircraft."
(Rt.co December 7, 2017)
A Russian Ilyushin-76 transport plane, carrying 81 Russian military personnel, landed at Franz Kaisiepo Airport in Biak, Papua on Monday, Dec. 4, 2017. The plane carried Russian personnel, who stayed in Biak from Dec. 4 to 9 for navigation exercises and sightseeing. (Source: Thejakartapost.com)
Russia-Indonesia Joint Drills
On November 30, the Russian Pacific Fleet’s spokesman, Nikolai Voskresensky, said:
"Today, Russian Pacific Fleet ships, the Admiral Panteleyev [, a] large anti-submarine ship and the Boris Butoma [, a] large sea-going tanker finished their unofficial visit to Indonesia and left the port of Tanjung Priok in northern Jakarta."
(Tass.com, November 30, 2017)
The media outlet Portnews.ru reported: "After the Russian unit left the main naval base of Jakarta, the ships of the Pacific Fleet and Indonesian Navy carried out a joint exercise aimed at improving cooperation at sea. During the event, signal communications organization and joint maneuvering were practiced."
(Portnews.ru, November 30, 2017)
Russian Ambassador To The Philippines: 'We Are Against Close Military Alliance In The Asia-Pacific Region'
Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev (Source: Gmanetwork.com)
On November 30, Russia's Ambassador to the Philippines, Igor Khoraev, was interviewed by Philippines' media outlet Gma News TV. During the interview, Khoraev stressed that Russia is not looking for a military alliance with the Philippines. In October, Russia gave 5,000 Kalashnikov rifles, 5,000 steel helmets, one million rounds of ammunition, and 20 trucks to the Philippines' Armed Forces.
Igor Khovaev: "First of all, I would like to emphasize that the fight against terrorism is our common fight. My country suffered a lot from terrorism, and we fully understand that no country is able to efficiently cope with this threat on its own. We need to combine our efforts. So we are open for any cooperation with [the Philippines's] military and military technical fields. So, we are ready to supply sophisticated arms and weapons, staff training… and we are ready also for joint military exercises and we are also ready to transfer military technology to help your country build your own defense industry. So it means that we have long term strategic interests. We have to build a long term partnership with the [Philippines]. I think it is a very responsible policy. But there is one exception: we do not seek any military alliance. We are against close military alliance in the Asia-Pacific region."
Q: "Why is that?"
Igor Khovaev: "… We think that the security must be equal and comprehensive, and divisible for all Asian Pacific countries, but not for the selected few. Any attempt to build a close military alliance means an attempt to provide the alliance members with the security to a considerable extent at the expense of other countries… Moreover any military alliance means a limitation of sovereignty… I do not think [the Philippines] want to have common enemies…"
Q: "So it is okay that the Philippines has an alliance with the United States…"
Igor Khovaev: "It is your sovereign right. We do not make any comments on that."
(Source: Gmanetwork.com, November 30, 2017)
Vladimir Putin and President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte met on the sidelines of the two-day APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting, in Danang, Vietnam. (Source: Kremlin.ru, November 10, 2017; See transcript of the meeting between Putin and Duterte).
Russia And The Philippines Inked 8 Agreements
Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev and Duterte met on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit in the Philippines (Source: Gmanetwork.com)
On November 13, Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev and Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte held a late-night meeting on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit in the Philippines.
On that occasion, the two countries signed eight deals:
- Treaty on on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters; Treaty on Extradition;
- A Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation between the Department of Energy and the State Atomic Energy Corporation of the Russian Federation;
- Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the Field of Mass Communication;
- Memorandum of Understanding on the Development of Cooperation in Transport Education;
- Memorandum of Understanding between the Commission on Higher Education of the Republic of the Philippines and the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation;
- Memorandum of Understanding between the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines and the Federal Service for Intellectual Property of the Russian Federation;
- Agreement on Cooperation between the Commission on Audit of the Republic of the Philippines and the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation;
- Agreement of Cooperation and Partnership between Philippine company Vi Holding LLC and Russian company Global Ferronickel Holdings Inc.
On the sidelines of the ASEAN summit, The Philippines' Department of Energy and the Russian Federation State Atomic Energy Corporation (Rosatom) signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) on a nuclear cooperation program.
The Manila Bulletin provided details:
"Under the agreement, the Philippines and Russian Federation will cooperate in several areas such as the audit and assessment of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant’s (BNPP) technical condition, including the option of its rehabilitation.
"The cooperation would also involve the creation of nuclear infrastructure studies towards national energy policy development and nuclear energy program implementation in the Philippines.
"Feasibility studies will also be drafted on the construction of small modular nuclear power plants in the Philippines, onshore or offshore, but not limited to analysis of technical, commercial, financial and legal aspects.
"The two Parties may also carry out similar studies on nuclear power plants in general as may be deemed necessary and consistent with national energy development plans and policies of the Philippines…"
(Business.mb.com.ph, November 18, 2017)
Russia Donated Kalashnikovs To The Philippines
On October 22, Russia delivered to the Philippines: 5,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles, 1 million cartridges and 20 military trucks.
(Sputniknews.com, October 24, 2017)
Defense Agreements But Short Of Military Alliance
On May 23, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. However, Duterte had to suddenly return back to Manila, due to a terrorist attack that hit the southern island of Mindanao. Nevertheless, his ministers signed close to $1 billion worth of business deals with Russian firms. The Philippines and Russia have also signed an Agreement on Defense Cooperation. The defense cooperation will expand "exchanges in terms of training, seminars and best practices between the two countries, with the end to develop relations in the field of military education, including military medicine, military history, sports, and culture as well as experiences in consultation, observer participation in military training exercises, and military port calls."
Valdai Club expert Viktor Sumsky, Director of the ASEAN Center at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations of the Russian Foreign Ministry, in an article, titled "Rodrigo Duterte In Russia: Arms Deal On The Way?," explained: "The Philippine side has more than once explained that the future agreement on cooperation with Russia in the field of defense does not mean the establishment of a military alliance. From the technical point of view the military equipment of the Philippine army is rather obsolete. The Philippines stands behind most of its ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] partners – and this happened after decades of the military and political embrace from the United States."
See MEMRI Special Dispatch No.6947, Russia-Philippines Relations: Defense Agreements But Short Of Military Alliance, May 29, 2017.
On December 7, Russia's Pacific Fleet spokesman Nikolay Voskresensky said:
"A Pacific Fleet squadron consisting of the Admiral Panteleyev large anti-submarine ship and the Boris Butoma large sea tanker has arrived in the city of Yangon (Myanmar). After anchoring, the Russian seamen were officially met at the port of Thilawa."
The Russian news agency TASS described the unofficial visit (December 7-10) by the Russian warships as open to locals, and seamen from the Pacific Fleet and the Myanmar Navy took part in joint sports competitions.
(Tass.com, December 7, 2017)
Myanmar Locals visiting a Russian warship (Source: Elevenmyanmar.com)