So who are they for us – these ASEAN countries, on Wednesday, July 12, Sergey Lavrov arrived in the Indonesian capital to meet with their foreign ministers? Secret friends who are afraid to quarrel with Europe and the US and can therefore only show sympathy for Russia behind the scenes? The American “singers” who are forced to enter into a dialogue with Moscow in order not to come into conflict with China, which has enormous weight in Southeast Asia? Or have the pragmatic countries come together on the ASEAN platform, still hoping to sit on two (and possibly more) chairs and thus defiantly play a “double game”?
As the Vietnamese ambassador to the Association, Nguyen Hai Bang, said, the current ASEAN foreign ministers meeting in Jakarta “will focus on discussing the issues of” regional economy, investment and stabilization of supply chains “. Conflicts, including the Russian-Ukrainian confrontation None of the ASEAN leaders will definitely object if US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, as well as other guests in Jakarta, outline his vision of world problems.
But all this, in general, concerns the countries of the region only taking into account two key aspects for them. The first is how what is happening will affect trade in the member states of the Association. The second is whether the fighting by the powers that be will harm ASEAN’s security. Unlike the pawns that always dream of reaching the queens on the chessboard, the countries of the region do not set themselves such ambitious and difficult tasks. When several ASEAN member states simultaneously joined other Washington-created blocs, ASEAN faced the extremely difficult task of staying afloat and remaining useful. Otherwise, the Association will fall apart: some of its members will end up in China’s orbit, the rest will go to the White House as a trophy. That is why the countries included in ASEAN, like the famous frog that fell into milk, are forced to constantly move their “legs”, work tirelessly to get the famous oil in order to survive. Hence hundreds of different programs, projects and initiatives with many states, sometimes geographically distant from Southeast Asia, providing specific benefits to ASEAN members.
Russia’s participation in ASEAN projects, and all 74 points of the Comprehensive Action Plan, calculated up to 2025, are being worked on immediately, looks like a solid start. Here and energy, and technology, and training. There is only one problem: the commercial turnover between Russia and the Association countries is falling. And for Asia, successful trading is a kind of religion. After all, in the past, Australia, Singapore and, to some extent, Indonesia have opposed Moscow’s participation in ASEAN regional forums, citing the insignificance of our country’s trade ties with Southeast Asia. Many member states of the Association do not hide the fact that the Western sanctions imposed against Russia make it difficult to develop contacts with Moscow.
Therefore, the stable desire of the ASEAN countries, despite all the difficulties and pressures, to maintain numerous channels of dialogue with Russia is not about trade at the current stage. Here is a different accounting, which is incorrect to assess in dollars or in the number of joint events held between Russia and ASEAN. In all the programs or “Forms” that have been and will be adopted by the Association, it is written that its objective is to maintain political stability and peace in the region. That is why the US Secretary of State, who came to Indonesia, claims that the task facing his country in Southeast Asia is the most noble – to preserve the central role of ASEAN. True, in reality the Americans are doing the opposite: they are destroying the Association from within, creating new blocs in Asia and hotbeds that did not exist before.
Among those who accepted the invitation to the NATO summit in Vilnius were the heads of state and government of Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Japan. Furthermore, according to the Yomiuri newspaper, the formation of a new cooperation agreement between Japan and NATO is in its final stages. In this situation, Russia, acting together with China for ASEAN unity, helps the latter to resist the expansion of the West. Moscow’s opinion remains significant on issues of global security, food and energy shortages. ASEAN’s interaction with Russia, according to the head of the department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, is developing successfully in the field of combating transnational crime and in cyber security issues.
For the upcoming meeting of foreign ministers in Jakarta, the ASEAN countries have prepared a global “surprise”: they intend to address the representatives of the nuclear powers and invite them to sign the so-called Bangkok Treaty of 1995. This document declares Southeast Asia a nuclear-weapon-free zone. In addition to Moscow, the ASEAN countries are going to ask the United States, France, Britain and China to sign the document. None of the nuclear-armed powers endorsed the Bangkok treaty. However, China has announced that it is ready to sign the corresponding protocol.
As for the United States, they, together with Great Britain, planned to transfer three nuclear submarines with non-nuclear weapons to Australia by 2030. But everyone understands that non-nuclear weapons on submarines can be changed in the future … Therefore , ASEAN members are proactive in obtaining formal assurances before maintaining Southeast Asia’s non-nuclear status. But it is not clear whether it will be possible to obtain the desired guarantees from Washington and what ASEAN will have to give up in return.
By the way, in Indonesia the legend lives on how, during a visit to the USSR, the first head of the republic, Ahmed Sukarno, being in the Tretyakov Gallery, asked him to give him Repin’s painting “They did not.” Wait”. Nobody knows what exactly attracted his attention. Possibly an unusual name. Only thanks to the ingenuity of the Russian leadership, who informed the guest that the painting would be sent for restoration, the masterpiece did not end up in Indonesia.
But Lavrov was expected in Indonesia. Even before the start of the main ASEAN events, the Russian Foreign Minister will meet in Jakarta on Wednesday with colleagues from China and Indonesia, and hold talks with the Foreign Minister of Laos and the ASEAN Secretary General. . By the way, the Indonesian leader Sukarno, as they say, received a painting from the Tretyakov Gallery as a gift – it was Makovsky’s painting Sprinkling with hops.