Perizat RISBEK KIZI
Today, the geopolitical reality in the Indo-Pacific (Asia-Pacific) region is quite tense from a military and security point of view. In particular, the resolution of the dispute in the East China Sea between China and Japan around the Senkaku Islands remains in question, the Taiwan issue is brewing and the South China Sea is an arena for several territorial disputes. Against the background of all these contradictions, the United States focused on the situation in the Indo-Pacific region after the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. Thus, the signing in September by the United States, Great Britain and Australia of the trilateral agreement on cooperation in the field of defense, AUKUS, was partly the result of the determination of Canberra, London and Washington to stop the strengthening of Beijing’s international position, which recently has been asserting its military influence in the region.
AUKUS and the possibility of an arms race in the region
Within the framework of the AUKUS security partnership, the deepening of cooperation in the field of defense technologies was considered, the most notable of which are eight nuclear submarines, in the development of which the United States and Great Britain will help Australia.
However, there are serious prerequisites to believe that such an alliance could undermine, rather than strengthen, security in the Indo-Pacific region. Although AUKUS does not officially have an anti-Chinese orientation, it is obvious that its creation will lead to an increase in the presence of participating countries in that part of the region that has traditionally been Beijing’s sphere of influence, and could potentially lead to a violation of the nuclear nonproliferation regime. The statement of the Australian Ambassador to the United States, Arthur Sinodinos, confirms this. Thus, speaking at the Hudson Institute on November 9, Artur Sinodinos said that the AUKUS alliance was concluded in response to the changing security situation, obviously created by China, and the demonstration of their strength in the Indo-Pacific region.
Moreover, China, in turn, expresses its concern about the formation of such an alliance. On 4th November, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said: “It is extremely irresponsible for the Australian government to ignore its international nuclear non-proliferation obligations and the serious concerns of regional countries and the international community in pursuit of its own interests.” Against this backdrop, China is significantly expanding its submarine fleet and increasing the volume of research in nearby waters, including around Taiwan and between Indonesia and Australia. This trend of improving military capabilities speaks of the brewing cold war in the region.
Position of Russia
Furthermore, recently China cultivated closer military and diplomatic ties with Russia, which also criticizes the formation of military alliances in the Indo-Pacific region. The creation of AUKUS forces Russia to pay more attention to the development of its naval forces and coastal defense of the Pacific coast from the Japan Sea to the Bering Strait. However, if we talk about confrontation, then Russia most likely will not allow itself to be drawn into the Sino-American military confrontation in the region. Since the main task of Russia in the Pacific region is to ensure national defense, but not to project its own power.
Despite the fact that Sino-Australian economic cooperation continues at full speed (Beijing accounts for up to 40 percent of Australian trade), this leads to Australia’s political withdrawal into a confrontational regime, thereby creating new contradictions in the region. The creation of military blocs and alliances increases uncertainty in the system of international relations and leads to increased tensions, reduced confidence and a blow to regional peace and stability. Finally, the confrontation between the regional giants is becoming a challenge for all states of the region and for the existing institutions of their military-political cooperation. In this vein, there is an acute need for building a fundamentally new security system to maintain a dialogue between leading regıonal actors.