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Diplomacy
Putin and Kim

Ukraine recap: Putin love-in with Kim Jong-un contrasts with western disarray over peace plan

by Jonathan Este

Hotfoot from signing a security pact with North Korea on Wednesday, Vladimir Putin has popped up in Vietnam, another of the few remaining countries where the Russian president is still welcome (or doesn’t face arrest under the war crimes warrant issued by the International Criminal Court last year). Here he was congratulated by the president, To Lam, for his election victory earlier this year and for maintaining stability and continuity in Russia. Putin, meanwhile, made much of the Soviet Union’s historical support for the Vietnamese people’s struggle for independence and unity from the 1950s to the 1970s, referring, without a hint of irony, to Vietnam’s “heroic struggle against foreign invaders”. The visit has been billed as part of Putin’s strategy to promote a new “multipolar” world order, free from US control. But it should be noted that the pragmatic Vietnamese have already hosted Joe Biden and Xi Jinping over the past nine months. Hanoi’s “bamboo diplomacy” depends on the country being “actively neutral” – with one eye on China, Vietnam has also upgraded relations with the US, Australia and South Korea in recent times. So, while there will be plenty of expressions of goodwill from Vietnam’s leadership, they are less likely to commit to anything more concrete as things stand. North Korea knows little of such diplomatic niceties, though, and has fewer choices when it comes to its friends. Very little detail has emerged of the new pact with Russia, except that it would require each country to come to the aid of the other if attacked. But it’s likely that close to the top of the agenda would have been Russia’s military requirements. North Korea’s supplies of artillery and ammunition are thought to have been vital in helping Russia overcome the harsh sanctions imposed by the US as well as Beijing’s unwillingness to directly provide arms for the war in Ukraine. Kim, in turn, wants Russian know-how when it comes to sophisticated military tech as well as economic support when it comes to feeding his country’s starving population. But warm relations between the two countries is nothing new. Official pronouncements emphasised the “traditionally friendly and good” relations between Russia and North Korea “based on the glorious traditions of common history”. For Kim, writes Robert Barnes, a senior lecturer in history at York St John University, this is something of a family affair which harks back to the 1930s when the North Korean leader’s grandfather Kim Il-sung was a relatively unknown Korean communist leading a small guerrilla band fighting the Japanese in Manchuria. Kim spent much of the second world war in the Soviet Union, where he joined the Red Army and rose to the rank of major. After the conflict, he was handpicked by Stalin to lead the Korean Workers’ party and then North Korea when it was established in 1948. The Korean war which followed almost led to a nuclear confrontation between the Soviet Union and the west. Hopefully, concludes Barnes, nothing as dramatic will result from this latest iteration of the relationship between the two countries. But pariah states such as North Korea aren’t the only countries where Putin can command a degree of support, if the recent European parliamentary elections are any guide. As Natasha Lindstaedt notes here, the rise of the far right in EU member states such as Germany, France, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria is throwing up an increasingly powerful group that stands in opposition to EU support for Ukraine. It may seem counterintuitive that such an avowed anti-fascist as Putin is courting extreme right organisations such as Germany’s Alternative for Deutschland party (AfD) or Hungary’s Fidesz party. But Lindstaedt believes that leaders such as Hungary’s Viktor Orbán have shown little concern for the institutions of democracy – as shown by Hungary’s adoption of a similar foreign agents’ law which acts to curtail press freedom and the work of NGOs. She concudes: “Putin is seen by the far right as a strong and conservative leader that can defend himself against the liberal west, which is trying to undermine these values.” The west, meanwhile, remains divided over the manner and extent of its support for Ukraine. The good news for Kyiv is that the recent G7 meeting in Puglia, southern Italy, ended in an in-principle agreement to use the US$3 billion (£2.36 billion) interest from US$350 billion of Russian assets frozen in the western banking system to underwrite a US$50 billion loan to Ukraine. But Gregory Stiles and Hugo Dobson, experts in international relations at the University of Sheffield, sound a cautionary note suggesting that the details of how this will work are likely to take months to agree. Meanwhile, they write, five of the seven leaders – US president Joe Biden, France’s Emmanuel Macron, Canada’s Justin Trudeau, the UK’s Rishi Sunak and Japan’s Fumio Kishida – all face elections this year which none of them are guaranteed to survive. And, to take just one example, if Biden loses in November to Donald Trump, the likelihood of this deal proceeding becomes significantly reduced. Summit on peace Many of these leaders went on to Switzerland at the weekend for the Summit on Peace in Ukraine. Stefan Wolff, an expert in international security at the University of Birmingham, was following proceedings and concludes that it’s hard to judge the meeting an unqualified success. Out of 160 countries and international organisations invited, only 92 attended. Biden was a no-show and Canada’s premier, Justin Trudeau, was the only G7 leader to stay for both days of the conference. The main problem, writes Wolff, was that the only peace plan on the table was that proposed some time ago by Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky. This calls for the complete withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine, including Crimea, and the payment of reparations for rebuilding his country. Seven other peace plans, proposed by the likes of China (which also failed to send anyone), Brazil, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, a group of African states led by South Africa and the Vatican were not discussed. Most of these call for a ceasefire, which is anathema to Kyiv and its backers in the US and UK, as it would accept, for the time being at least, Russia’s territorial gains on the ground, including the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014. Putin, meanwhile, was trolling hard from the sidelines, releasing his terms for a ceasefire deal, which are for Ukraine to accept Russian annexation of Crimea and not just the land his troops currently occupy, but all of the four regions he annexed in September 2022. Putin’s column As previously noted here, a season of relative success on the battlefield, has left Putin in a bullish mood. It emerged recently that (despite being seriously disadvantaged by the war in Ukraine and the harsh western sanctions which have ensued) the boss of Russian energy giant plans to build an 80-metre column in St Petersburg to commemorate Peter the Great’s triumph in the great northern war, after which Russia declared itself to be an empire for the first time. As George Gilbert, an expert in Russian history at University of Southampton notes, anything honouring Peter the Great is a sure-fire way of buttering up the Russian president, who sees himself as a latter-day incarnation of the man who built his home town of St Petersburg, glossing over the fact that Peter saw his capital as a way of making Russia more of a west-facing country. Gilbert gives us some historical context about the conflict, in which Russia lined up alongside much of what would become Poland and Germany as well as Britain, by virtue of its king, George I, also being the ruler of Hanover. The key battle, he writes, was at Poltava, which is in the middle of what is now Ukraine, which involved defeating a crack regiment of Cossack cavalry, which you’d have to imagine is very much grist to Putin’s mill. One suspects, though, that it’s Peter the Great’s imperial achievements that Putin wants to emulate most of all.

Diplomacy
Rome, Italy - March 22, 2019: Xi Jinping, China's president, speaks as he attends an Italy-China business forum with Sergio Mattarella, Italy's president, at the Quirinale Palace in Rome.

Xi Jinping's "Civilization State" and Anti-Americanism in Europe

by Ihsan Yilmaz , Nicholas Morieson

It is not surprising that China’s Xi Jinping should visit France, Europe’s second largest economy and one of the dominant nations within the European Union. But why should he visit comparatively small and economically less important nations such as Hungary or Serbia? The answer lies not merely in the economic opportunities such a visit may bring to all parties, but in the increasingly anti-American themed politics of the three nations, and their governments’ belief that the future of international politics is a multi-polar order dominated by “civilization states.” These two factors make China, which promises to free the world from American political, economic, and cultural dominance and establish a new multipolar order, an attractive partner for France, Serbia, and Hungary. Equally, it makes them attractive to China, which seeks to divide Europe and the United States, and build greater economic and political ties with European nations desirous of a “new” Europe free of American dominance. Xi portrays China as not merely a nation-state, but a continuation of Ancient Chinese culture merged with Marxism. Xi is adamant that China must draw on its civilizational heritage, and reject the values of Western civilization, which are not – he argues – universal, but indeed particular to the West and thus unsuitable for China. Xi’s remark that China “will work with France to deepen China-Europe mutually beneficial cooperation,” and that the two are “major forces in building a multipolar world, two big markets that promote globalization, and two great civilizations that advocate cultural diversity,” underlines this civilizational perspective on global politics. Civilizationism, as a construct, is thus a tool of liberation through which Xi will free China of non-indigenous values and ideas, and through which it will overcome the United States and make the Chinese nation Asia’s dominant power. The leaders of both China and France, despite their differences, are drawn together due to shared antipathy towards the United States, and their shared civilizational perspective on global affairs, a perspective intrinsically connected with their anti-American politics. Naturally, China and France do not share the same opinion of the United States. China views America as a rival; France views America, perhaps, as a perfidious ally forcing “Anglo-Saxon” culture upon an unwilling French people. Experts have noted the importance Emmanuel Macron places on rejuvenating what he calls European Civilization. Indeed, where right-wing populist Marine Le Pen calls for the protection of France’s Judeo-Christian yet secular civilization, Macron is moving beyond the nation-state paradigm and speaking of centralising power within the European Union in order to protect otherwise moribund European civilization. Macron is very concerned about the future of European civilization, and believes that it represents the best of humanity and must therefore protect its “humanist” values. For Macron, European civilization has many enemies. But perhaps the key enemy is the United States, which is an enemy precisely because it is an anti-civilizational power that defends the nation-state paradigm, insists that its values are universal, and desires a relatively weak Europe. Macron argued that Europeans should take inspiration from the “civilisational projects of Russia and Hungary” and what Macron called their “inspiring cultural, civilisational vitality.” He says European civilization is “humanist,” and that to survive it must reject the “Anglo-American model” which permits the private sector to gain enormous power over human life. This position, of course, also rejects the Chinese model, in which the government is given total control over human life. Hungary and Serbia Victor Orbán is drawn to Xi in much the same way as Macron: both believe the rise of civilization states, such as China, as ineluctable, and both believe that China’s rise provides an opportunity for their respective states – if not civilizations – to free themselves from Anglo-American norms. Although Orbán possesses a civilizational rejuvenation project, it is of an entirely different nature to Macron’s “humanist” plan for Europe. Orbán calls for the re-Christianization of Europe, and for the strengthening of the nation-state and its borders, and he speaks not so much of European civilization but of Judeo-Christian civilization. Orban says, “the US ought to permit illiberal states – such as Hungary – to determine their own futures rather than impose ‘universal values’ upon them in an effort to prevent war.” China’s rise comes at the expense of Orbán’s liberal democratic foes (i.e. Washington and Brussels), decreasing their ability to pressure Hungary to return to liberal democratic norms. Equally, because China is ruled by an authoritarian populist who has a civilizational perspective on international relations, the rise of China legitimises Orbán’s own authoritarianism and his civilizational rejuvenation project. It should come as no surprise that the date Xi chose to visit Serbia coincided with the 25th anniversary of the American-led NATO bombings of Belgrade’s Chinese embassy. The two nations have become increasingly close since the 2012 election victory of the governing populist Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), which sees China as both a source of economic growth and technological development, and also as a partner that is less likely to criticise Serbia’s refusal to sanction Russia, and its often socially conservative politics. Thus, President Aleksandar Vučić received Xi in Belgrade in a ceremony during which he promised the Chinese leader that he would receive in Serbia a degree of “reverence and love” not “found anywhere else.” He further promised that his government would only increase cooperation with Beijing, saying “the sky is the limit.” Xi authored an article in Serbia’s Politika news outlet noting that China and Serbia have similar positions on many important international and regional issues. In the piece, Xi is indirectly calling for Serbia to assist China in challenging US and Western dominance in the international sphere. Experts noted that “Serbia’s hosting of Xi is connected to broader efforts — notably by Moscow and Beijing — to challenge U.S. influence and potentially reshape the international order.” Conclusion Xi’s tour of France, Hungary, and Serbia demonstrates the growing influence of China in Europe. But it also tells us much about how some Europeans are responding to China’s rise as a self-styled civilizational power. This rise has inspired some European leaders to challenge US dominance in international politics and embrace the core values of “European civilization.” Many of Europe’s states thus may seek to emulate China, or help it rise and attempt to politically and economically benefit from it. Moreover, China’s rise seems to demonstrate how by rejecting normative Anglo-American (or more broadly Western) values, and embracing the traditional values and culture of one’s own civilization, these states can overcome American imperialism and cultural hegemony. Whether rejecting Western Anglo-American norms and embracing their own civilizational values can give these entire nations a shared purpose, and inspire reindustrialization, remains an unanswered question. Ihsan Yilmaz is a research professor of political science and international relations at Deakin University’s ADI (Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation). Previously, he worked at the Universities of Oxford and London.  Nicholas Morieson holds a Ph.D. in politics from the Australian Catholic University, Melbourne, and a Masters in International Relations from Monash University. He is the author of Religion and the Populist Radical Right: Christian Secularism and Populism in Western Europe, and a Research Fellow at the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation.

Diplomacy
Pedro Sánchez

Spain recognizes the Palestinian state and reaffirms its friendship with Israel despite genocide in Gaza

by Redacción El Salto

한국어로 읽기Leer en españolIn Deutsch lesen Gap اقرأ بالعربيةLire en françaisЧитать на русском Although the gesture from Spain, Ireland, and Norway has been welcomed by Palestinian authorities, the past week has highlighted the Zionist determination to obliterate any possibility of a genuine Palestinian state. Pedro Sánchez announced early this morning what has been awaited since it was announced almost a week ago: the recognition of the Palestinian State, which, in the words of the Prime Minister, "must be a viable state, with the West Bank and Gaza connected by a corridor, with East Jerusalem as its capital, unified under the Government of the Palestinian National Authority," he stated. The president also sought to appease Zionist opposition and dispel accusations of supporting Hamas: "This is a decision that is not against anyone, least of all against Israel, a friendly people whom we respect and appreciate, and with whom we want to have the best possible relationship. This decision reflects our outright rejection of Hamas." The announcement of the recognition of the State of Palestine will be made, as the president communicated in the press conference, after it is approved today by the Council of Ministers. Meanwhile, the coalition government partner, ‘Sumar’, has welcomed this step, reminding that other actions are still necessary. "Arms embargo, suspension of diplomatic relations, supporting ICJ measures, and supporting the South African denunciation," have been enumerated in its X account. Today, May 28, 2024, was the date that Spain, Norway, and Ireland had marked on the agenda to take this diplomatic step in support of the Palestinian people. Ireland, for its part, will proceed with the recognition of the State of Palestine following a parliamentary debate to be held during the day. The decision taken by these three European countries, made public last Wednesday, May 22nd, joins them with the 144 countries that already recognized the State of Palestine within its 1967 borders, following the commitment to the coexistence of two sovereign states that can peacefully coexist, a principle underlying the Oslo Peace Accords of 1993, and which, however, three decades later, seem unrealistic given Israeli policies of colonization of the West Bank, isolation of Gaza, and appropriation of East Jerusalem, the territories that should compose an already disjointed Palestinian state. The Spanish recognition of Palestine as a state — a recurring commitment made by the PSOE that has taken time to materialize — coordinated with Ireland and Norway, implies that European countries, traditional allies of Israel, are joining what the Global South and colonized peoples had largely done decades ago. In Europe, Sweden took that step in 2014, many years after several countries in Eastern Europe recognized the Palestinian state in 1988, before the fall of the Berlin Wall. The former Czechoslovakia is a striking case; while the Czech Republic considers this recognition no longer valid, Slovakia reaffirms the decision made in the 1980s. Currently, Belgium, Malta, and Slovenia are other European states that have expressed their intention to recognize the Palestinian state, without specifying a specific date. For Israel, it is important that this trend does not spread. Zionist Foreign Minister, Israel Khan, wasted no time in attacking the Spanish government (again) on social media for its decision, accusing the prime minister of being complicit in "inciting the murder of the Jewish people and war crimes." The decision of the heads of government of Ireland, Norway, and Spain came after the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution for the recognition of the Palestinian State, calling on the Security Council to accept Palestine as a full member after the US veto. The gesture of these three European countries has been welcomed by the Palestinian authorities, it responds to a historical demand, and contributes to put pressure on those countries that claim to advocate for the two-state solution but have not yet recognized Palestine as such. But beyond its symbolic value, for now, it doesn't seem likely to change the reality of the Palestinian people in Gaza, the West Bank, or East Jerusalem. In fact, Israel has punished Palestinians precisely after the decision of the three European countries: for example, by prohibiting the Spanish consulate in Jerusalem from assisting Palestinian individuals. On the other hand, the fact that most states recognize a Palestinian state has not translated into anything resembling its materialization: many of these states are also important allies of Israel, as emphasized by Sánchez himself this morning, recalling their closeness to the Zionist state. However, Israel, with its foreign minister at the forefront, has not ceased its attacks on Spain, Ireland, and Norway in the last week: in addition to recalling their ambassadors for consultations in the European states, there has been a constant response on social media, with videos accusing the three states of collaborating with Hamas. Meanwhile, violence against Gaza and the West Bank has intensified. Last Sunday, Israel attacked refugee camps in Rafah, leaving around fifty Palestinians dead and causing global outrage at the images of people burned alive, including children. It seems that in response to the symbolic gesture of recognizing Palestine, Israel continues with its plan to make a real Palestinian state impossible. In yesterday’s report (May 27th), the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) pointed out that one million people have been forced to flee again, following Israel's ground invasion of Rafah on May 6th. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health in Gaza has already reported over 36,000 deaths and more than 80,000 injuries, which, along with the missing persons, would account for 5% of the Strip's population. The United Nations has warned that it will take at least 80 years to rebuild Gaza. The fact that Israel is ravaging Palestine doesn't seem to concern the opposition as much as the worsening of bilateral relations with the Zionist state. While the leader of the opposition, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, stated yesterday that the government's decision "empowers" Hamas, Isabel Díaz Ayuso echoed a similar sentiment, saying, "They are calling for the extermination of Israel and are justifying what Hamas terrorism intends against that state. The offenses from the Government are continuous (...) The State [of Israel] will not respond with flowers," said the president of the Community of Madrid yesterday after the publication of a video released by Israel in which, with flamenco music in the background, it was reiterated that Hamas appreciates Spain's decision. But the recognition of the Palestinian state is not the only open front against the Zionist state: following the ICJ's order to halt the offensive against Gaza, the EU convened a meeting with Israel for the first time yesterday, and mentioned a tool that the EU has had from the beginning, the review of the preferential agreement between Brussels and the Zionist state. Meanwhile, civil society expands its mobilizations; yesterday, demonstrations condemning the bombings in Rafah took place worldwide, overflowing in cities like Paris. Meanwhile, the momentum continues from the encampments, which, as seen in yesterday's action at the Polytechnic University of Madrid, are bringing to light all the ties with Israel, achieving concrete victories, and exposing the extent of the economic interests and networks of influence that Israel has deployed in the university sphere. The article was translated and licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 ES (Atribución-CompartirIgual 3.0 España).

Diplomacy
Vladimir Putin: Answers to questions from journalists following a visit to China

Vladimir Putin: Answers to questions from journalists following a visit to China

by Vladimir Putin

한국어로 읽기Leer en españolIn Deutsch lesen Gap اقرأ بالعربيةLire en françaisЧитать на русском Vladimir Putin replied to questions from Russian media representatives on the outcomes of his two-day state visit to the People’s Republic of China. Question: It would not be an exaggeration to say that the whole world watched your visit here, as evidenced by a spate of news reports and publications. It is clear that the future of the rapidly changing world largely depends on the positions of Russia and China. Following your talks in China, we would like to know whether Moscow and Beijing have a shared understanding of how the future system of international security and politics should evolve. Vladimir Putin: First of all, I would like to thank President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping and the leadership of China for this invitation and for creating a very favourable and warm atmosphere for our joint work. On the whole, the talks were very meaningful and very substantive. This was an official state visit, but it was also very much a working trip. From morning until evening, we spent virtually the entire day with the President of China and his colleagues. We raised multiple issues for discussion. You said that the future depends on Russia and China, but this is only partly true. The future of humankind depends on the whole of humanity. Certainly, Russia and China are important components of modern civilisation. We have our own views on how we should develop. Certainly, our advancement will influence the advancement of all partners on the planet. We believe that development should be constructive and peaceful, no doubt about it. Apart from our interests, it should heed the interests of all parties to international interaction. Of course, it is necessary to strengthen the emerging multipolar world. There is absolutely no doubt that a new world is taking shape before our eyes and becoming multipolar. I believe all the people are aware of this. It is important that those who are trying to maintain their monopoly on making decisions on all issues globally should realise this (I believe that they do realise it perfectly well). Understanding this, they should do everything possible to facilitate this natural process. I repeat, this process should be peaceful and conflict-free, with the opinions of all parties to the international process fully considered. All of us should seek compromises while making the difficult decisions that lie ahead. We are committed to this approach and to precisely this kind of work. I have discussed this repeatedly, and the President of China has also emphasised this: our interaction, cooperation and strategic partnership with China, Russia-China partnership, is not directed against anyone. Our aim is solely to create better conditions for the development of our countries to improve the well-being of the peoples of China and the Russian Federation. Question: How did your informal meeting with Xi Jinping go? Your aide said it took place in a super-narrow format but was attended by Defence Minister Andrei Belousov and Security Council Secretary Sergei Shoigu. Did you discuss Ukraine? What would you personally consider convincing evidence of Ukraine’s readiness for talks? Earlier both you and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov repeatedly said that the Western partners could no longer be trusted. Vladimir Putin: Yes, this meeting took place in the narrow format. We really discussed many issues that are important for bilateral relations. We discussed the issue of settling the Ukrainian crisis. The President of the PRC told me the main theses of what he discussed during his recent visit to Europe. He set forth his position linked with Chinese peace initiatives. We have said more than once that we believe that China is sincerely striving to settle this problem. It offers different options and is very flexible. I believe it is sincerely striving to resolve this problem. We discussed this at some length. As for our counter partners, let’s say in this case these are Ukrainian leaders and their European and overseas bosses. Well, we have spoken about this many times. When our troops stood near Kiev, our Western partners told us: it is impossible to sign documents when the other side puts a gun to your temple. “What should be done?” we asked. “It is necessary to withdraw troops from Kiev.” We did this. On the following day, they threw all our agreements into the dustbin and said: “Now we will fight to the end.” Their Western curators occupied the position that is now known to the whole world – to defeat Russia on the battlefield, to inflict a strategic defeat on it. It wasn’t us who behaved in this way. These were our partners. Ukrainian officials confirmed this, in particular, the head of the Ukrainian delegation at the talks in Minsk and later in Istanbul, said this. The then Prime Minister [of Great Britain] Mr Johnson came to Kiev and advised Ukraine to continue hostilities. Mr Arakhamia, the head of the Ukrainian delegation, who now leads the ruling parliamentary party in Ukrainian parliament, said that otherwise all hostilities would have been ended a year and a half ago. He said this in public, I believe, at his meeting with journalists. Nobody actually had doubts about this. So, let’s sum up this part of my answer to your question – we were cheated again. Now we need to understand whom and how we should deal with, whom we should trust and to what extent. Of course, we are analysing now everything that is taking place in this regard. Of course, we are looking at what is happening around the universally announced meeting in Switzerland, in Geneva. I believe this is the venue of the meeting. We are certainly not going to discuss any formulas about which we know absolutely nothing. But as distinct from Ukraine, we have never rejected talks. It is they who have quit the negotiating process. They announced that they are going to inflict a strategic defeat on us. It is they who said they were “going to fight to the end,” actually not to the end but to the last Ukrainian. They did everything with their own hands. We have a foundation for the negotiating process – what we agreed on in Istanbul and a signature of the head of the Ukrainian delegation under an excerpt from this large document. He initialed it. We have this document with his signature on it. What are these other additional terms about which we have never heard and know nothing? The goal of this event is clear. They want to gather as many countries as possible, declare that everything has been agreed upon with everyone and then present it to Russia as a resolved issue, as an ultimatum. This will never happen. Question: Keeping with the theme of Ukraine… Yesterday, Vladimir Zelensky visited Kharkov and held a general headquarters meeting there. At the same time, we are involved in heavy fighting near Kharkov and our troops seem to be gaining success. Vladimir Putin: The word “seem” is wrong. They are gaining success. Each day, they advance in strict conformity with the plan. Question: What is the plan all about? Are we going to seize Kharkov? Or does our objective consist in creating a sanitary zone, as you said earlier? Thank you. Vladimir Putin: I do not know what the head of the Ukrainian state was saying. The only thing I know is that in the final analysis, they are to blame for what is happening. The origin of the current Kiev authorities is the coup d’etat [that occurred in 2014]. This is the source of the present-day authority in Ukraine. This is my first point. Second, [Kiev’s] Western sponsors allowed the coup to happen by facilitating and orchestrating it. They created the conditions for a smoldering conflict to grow into an armed conflict. They are to blame for this. They are attempting to lay the blame on someone else and make Russia responsible for the current tragic developments. But this is the result of their own policies. As far as the developments in the Kharkov sector are concerned, they are also to blame for these, because they shelled and, regrettably, continue to shell residential areas in border territories [of Russia], including Belgorod. Civilians are dying there, it’s clear for everyone. They fire missiles right at the city centre, at residential areas. I said publicly that if this continues, we will be forced to create a security zone, a sanitary zone. And this is what we are doing today. As for [the seizure of] Kharkov, there are no such plans for now. Question: It has recently been reported that Chinese banks stopped accepting payment transfers from Russian banks. Did you discuss this issue with the Chinese leader? If so, have you reached an agreement? Have you coordinated a potential scheme of settlements that would be immune from Western sanctions? Thank you. Vladimir Putin: Sanctions imposed on third countries engaged in economic activities are doubly or triply illegitimate because sanctions are absolutely illegitimate when adopted without the approval of the UN Security Council. This goes beyond common sense when it comes to third countries. Incidentally, the Americans or Europeans are even using such sanctions against their own allies. Europeans are not using them against the Americans, but the Americans apply such sanctions against European economic operators and often follow them through not only with regard to Russia but also against other countries in other situation. It is a common practice, and Europeans bear with this, proving yet again their vassal dependence on the sovereign over the sea. Well, whatever! As for such decisions, they certainly do direct damage to the global economy, not just to the countries they are adopted against or their economic operators, but also to the global economy as a whole, including energy and other spheres of economic operation, and primarily the issues of settlements that are discussed by the economic operators. Solutions are possible, and there are such solutions. Of course, they should be supported at the level of governments, and I hope that this is how it will be. The reasons behind the behaviour of large financial institutions are understandable: nobody wants to sustain losses because of US actions, even if they are illegal. However, I would like to repeat what I said before: it is silly and a huge mistake of the American political elites because they are inflicting big harm on themselves by undermining trust in the US dollar. They are gradually undermining the status of the dollar as a global settlement and reserve currency, even though they are deriving huge profits from this now. First, they adopted the Bretton Woods system. Then they abandoned the gold standard of the dollar and [formalised a floating exchange rate system under] the Jamaica Agreement. What is it based on? It fully depends on the money printing press, or putting it more gallantly, on the might and quality of the American economy. Yes, this is exactly how things stand. All countries in the world trust the American economy, its might and stability, which is why they accept the dollars. This gives a huge and seemingly inexplicable advantage to the American economy and financial system. However, it can be presented in figures. According to our economists, it amounts to over 10 trillion dollars that have not been earned but are a gift from heaven that comes from the use of the dollar as a global reserve currency. Overall, the obligations of the US financial system to the rest of the world have been estimated at $53.4 trillion. However, by undermining trust in the dollar for political reasons, the US authorities are weakening the main and the most powerful and important instrument of their might – the dollar itself. They are doing irreparable damage to themselves. Using one of popular sayings, they are quarrelling with their own bread and butter. This is thoughtless, but they seem unable to stop doing it. The disadvantage of this for us is that we have to look for other solutions. However, there are also advantages, because it is unacceptable when one side is using financial and economic instruments to force its will on the rest of the world, including on the political stage. I assure you that all countries are aware of this; you only have to look at how fast their dollar-denominated reserves are diminishing. The world is responding. I believe that the [de-dollarisation] process is inevitable. We have started doing this, and it is a correct process. It entails certain shortcomings and problems, but it is correct in general, when we speak about making settlements in national currencies or creating other settlement instruments jointly with other countries. The process is underway; it has begun, and it cannot be stopped. Question: Mr President, let me return to the subject of Ukraine and certain Western initiatives. You have mentioned yesterday’s lengthy discussion with Xi Jinping on this issue. Could you please tell us whether you touched upon Macron’s initiative to declare an “Olympic truce”? Do you believe an Olympic truce is possible now? Or is this another attempt by the West to lure Russia into a trap, especially amid its military successes? Thank you. Vladimir Putin: Yes, President Xi Jinping mentioned this, and we did discuss this issue briefly. What I think is, first, the principles of Olympism, including the Olympic truce concept, are very sound principles. There is a reason the international community has spent centuries working them out. True, few countries ever invoked this particular principle, with the exception of Ancient Greece, but in general, the idea itself is good and constructive. The issue lies elsewhere. It has to do with the current international sports officials themselves violating the principles of the Olympic Charter. They are politicising sport, which is absolutely unacceptable, because the purpose of sport is to serve as a platform for communication between people and for negotiating compromises on other issues, including political ones. They are violating their own rules, now with regard to Russia, by excluding our athletes from the Olympic Games, not allowing them to display their flag, anthem, or national colours. They are violating the rules with regard to us, but they want us to comply with the rules that they dictate to us. Has anyone given this a thought? Is this in line with the elementary norms of justice? No. They are violating the rules but they demand that we comply with them. Well, friends, this is not getting us anywhere. No one has ever reached agreement like this. Before demanding anything or expecting others to do something, one needs to follow these rules. Overall though, sports are certainly progressing, and this progress will continue. I don’t know how the Olympic movement will fare now, with such officials. If they put money first, if money is the only thing that motivates or drives them, if sport becomes a commercial enterprise solely aimed at making a profit, I cannot see a bright future for the Olympic movement. Look, sport has actually transformed into a for-profit corporation. What is their top priority? To raise money from sponsors and to have large information companies pay for broadcasting. This is just a big business profiting from sporting events. But the principle of Olympism is something else – it is about humanitarian values. Question: This week, the US imposed duties on a number of Chinese goods – chips, semi-conductors, metals and solar batteries. Most important, it raised the duty on Chinese electric cars, I believe, four times, up to 100 percent. Can these moves be considered sanctions against China? Is Russia-China cooperation helping counter such attacks? Vladimir Putin: Of course, on the surface, they look like sanctions but these are already elements of an economic war to a certain extent. This is not the first time they have been used. Incidentally, I can assure you that politics, the character of Russia-China relations and the situation in Ukraine have nothing to do with this. These are just elements of unfair competition. We were making an MS-21 aircraft. We agreed on purchasing certain components that we had to put into its wings. These components have nothing to do with military production. They simply denied them to us by including them into a sanctions list. Indicatively, this list was linked with military production whereas the components we wanted had nothing to do with it whatsoever. Yes, we lost time and this production was pushed back by about a year and a half. But eventually, we made these components, these aircraft wing carbon fibre tows. We made them and they are even better than the American ones in quality and durability. The result will be the same in this case. I have just explained at the meeting with students why such restrictions were introduced against the Chinese auto industry, against electric cars. Just because they have become better and cheaper than European or American ones. That’s it. They are simply killing competitors, in this case, the Chinese rival and do not let it into their market. This is a prohibitive duty. The same is taking place in Europe, of course. As soon as some country, a global development centre, as we often put it, is developing and becoming more competitive, they stop it and put it down, they try to make it happen. Can Russia-China cooperation counter this in some way? To prevent this from happening, they are creating problems in financial items because we could purchase more. But we are restricted in purchasing these products because of money transfer problems. Is it possible to do something about this? Yes, it is. We will develop joint productions. This requires time, just as it was with aircraft components when we had to delay their production by half a year. This is the same case. We will go for joint production. This is the most erroneous and stupid way of building an international economic system. The correct idea is that the market decides everything and they were drumming it into our heads for decades, if I may put it this way – pardon the fancy language. But the market will still push them down. Do you understand what the point is? They are creating this problem for themselves with their own hands. What will this lead to? They have introduced sanctions against various goods. What will it lead to? Inflation in the US. This is what they will get. Because they will try to make these products themselves, at their own sites, paying wages to their own workers, paying for their expensive metal and their expensive energy. This is the result – the German economy in Europe is already operating nearly in the red while the French economy is teetering on the brink of recession. If the German economy starts coughing and feels bad, the entire European economy will not feel quite well, putting it mildly. This is the result of such decisions. These are not market decisions. They are completely stupid and have no prospects whatsoever. Question: Please, tell us at what conditions you would attend a peace conference on Ukraine in Switzerland if you should receive such an invitation. Thank you. Vladimir Putin: Well, politics does not know the subjunctive mood: “if only.” We will not continue. You know what would have happened there in other cases. But there are no “ifs.” They do not invite us. Moreover, they say they cannot imagine us being there. So what will we be [talking] about? “If you do this” looks like we are trying to get invited. “But if you do this, and if this is the case, then we would make these decisions.” Well, if they cannot imagine us being there, so much the better. This is first. The second, very important thing, is that we are not going to discuss right away what we do not know. As I said, we had been holding painstaking talks for a long time, almost a month and a half; first in Minsk, then in Istanbul, and reached certain compromises. The Ukrainian side signed an abstract of these documents. The package alone is so thick, but the summary with the fundamental issues outlined there were initialed by the Ukrainian side. So, we worked on it. Now there are some formulas but what are they based on? Based on some wishes and not on the real situation. Well, it is impossible to discuss. However, we are ready for discussion. We never refused. I have just said that, and this is not a joke, I did not make it up. As soon as the troops withdrew, the Westerners immediately told Ukraine: “Do not sign anything. Fight.” They snapped a salute and are following out. While we were immediately told, “Now we will fight to the last man.” This is what we were told. There will be no more talks. Now they see that they cannot succeed. Perhaps they will be able to fight to the last man but they cannot inflict a strategic defeat on Russia, and they can see that. Now they are beginning to squeak . “Let us urgently convene a conference.” – “Sure.” – “Will Russia participate?” “We are ready to participate in peace talks.” “But we will not invite you.” Here you are, Good Lord, there we go. And Russia is being accused of being reluctant to take part. But we have not been invited. You are asking: on what conditions? Why should I be proposing terms and asking to let me come where we are not wanted? And what is it that they want to do? Gather as many countries as possible, convince everyone that the terms proposed by the Ukrainian side are the best offer, and then present this to us as an ultimatum, saying, “You see, the whole world thinks so. Thus you must agree.” Is this a way to conduct substantive and serious talks? Of course, not. This is an attempt to impose. There was an attempt to inflict a strategic defeat, but it failed. The attempt to impose will end the same way. Remark: But still, as I see it, your condition is that the agreements reached must be in force. Vladimir Putin: Of course. This is the basic condition. They initialed it, but the document was not fully signed. It includes very serious issues related to ensuring Ukraine’s security. They are worded in such a way that requires subsequent consideration. But overall, this is the basis. They have been initialed by the Ukrainian side. I think, not least, probably, if not under the diktat, then with the consent of their Western sponsors. But everything is rigorously worded there regarding their interests. There is also something that has been taken into account concerning Russia’s security interests. There are a lot of questions there, which I do not want to go into right now. I remember if not all of them but all the main provisions. We are ready to discuss this. But then they dumped it because they wanted to gain an advantage on the battlefield and achieve a strategic position, which did not work out; so now they are handing out their terms. Have they gone nuts? Why on earth? Of course, we will proceed from the realities on the ground. This goes without saying. Question: My question isabout China and supplies of our hydrocarbons to it. Has an agreement in principle been reached on the Power of Siberia 2 project? When will construction start: this year or next year? Have there been any talks about a possible increase in supplies? Vladimir Putin: Yes. I am not ready to speak about technical details now, but both sides have confirmed their interest in implementing these projects. Since the Chinese economy is growing, it requires, accordingly, more energy resources needed to maintain this growth. Nothing is more reliable (I think this is clear) than supplies from Russia. We have a huge common border, and no one will interfere here: neither sanctions against the tanker fleet, nor even sanctions against financial institutions. We will buy and sell everything in national currencies. Therefore, the interest on both sides has been reaffirmed. On the one hand, there is interest in receiving additional volumes, on the other hand, there is interest in selling on the Chinese market. This is always a complicated process, involving the question of prices, the question of who will earn and how much. However, strategically we are absolutely interested, both the countries, in implementing these projects, and we will move forward with them. Gazprom and our oil companies will certainly come to terms. There are different routes. One of them runs via Mongolia, and both gas and oil pipelines can be laid in the same corridor. Specialists will have to decide how best to proceed. It is possible to use the Northern Sea Route. We can buy extra tankers and set up supplies via the Northern Sea Route, which is almost the same as the pipeline. All these alternatives are possible. They are all acceptable and economically expedient. It is necessary to choose the best ones. I am confident that this work will be completed as well. Question: My question is also about Ukraine, if I may. Vladimir Zelensky’s term of office is about to end, it expires on May 20. Will Russia no longer consider him a legitimate president after that date? And would it matter to you, will you be ready to talk to him afterwards? Vladimir Putin: We used to talk with him; we were in constant contact with him before the conflict entered the extreme phase of armed struggle. As for legitimacy, this question must first of all be resolved by the political and legal systems of Ukraine itself. There are all sorts of options in their Constitution. This is a question of assessment. This assessment, of course, should be primarily made by the Constitutional Court and in general, by the political system of Ukraine. But for us, of course, it matters, because if it comes to signing some documents, we certainly will have to sign documents in such a crucial area with the legitimate authorities, this is an obvious fact. But, I reiterate, this question must be answered by the political and legal (juridical) systems of Ukraine itself. Thank you very much. Question: Did you discuss with President Xi Jinping the fact that China had been invited to this international conference? Vladimir Putin: We discussed this issue as part of the package. Thank you very much for your attention. Question: Mr Putin, what about the French army in Ukraine? Vladimir Putin: I am not the president of France. Why are you asking me this? I am not the one to make this decision. Question: Mr Macron has repeatedly conveyed that he was ready to send troops there. If regular French troops move to Ukraine, will it mean a direct conflict, a war with the French? Vladimir Putin: First, you should have him answer your question about the French troops in Ukraine. Once you get the answer, we will start considering the consequences of this step. Question: Mr Putin, may I ask about the figure of [Defence Minister Andrei] Belousov? Excuse me, please, this is my last question. Why was Belousov appointed the Defence Minister? We are now at a critical juncture of the special military operation. Vladimir Putin: I covered that already. Mr Peskov covered that, too, because I asked him to do so. I will go over it again. This year, the level of defence spending for the Defence Ministry alone amounted to 6.7 percent of GDP. If you combine that with the amounts spent on law enforcement and security agencies, the total amount will slightly exceed 8 percent. The Defence Ministry accounts for the bulk of the spending meaning that the amount of spending of law enforcement and security agencies depends on how much the Defence Ministry spends. The Defence Ministry is the first to make purchases followed by law enforcement and security agencies. Their choices depend on the Defence Ministry’s choices. In addition, the Defence Ministry is charged with building the national defence system which is does with the enlistment of other security agencies. Their spending depends on that, too. So, with the Defence Ministry spending 6.7 percent, and the total defence and security spending coming at slightly over 8 percent, this amount of spending is not critical. Defence spending in the Soviet Union in 1985–1986 stood at 13 percent. Taking into account the state of the economy, macroeconomic indicators, and budget revenue forecasts, combined defence and security spending at slightly 8 percent is not critical and is absolutely safe. Experts are even saying it could be larger since the budget is robust enough to handle that. But this level of spending is what we currently have. As you are aware, Mr Belousov served as the Minister of Economy. He is considered a good economist, one of the best in the country. He was my aide on economic matters. He also served as the First Deputy Prime Minister. In this sense, he is, without a doubt, able to coordinate the Defence Ministry’s work with other ministries and agencies, as well as the regions. This is important as well. I am talking not only about the border regions, but other regions as well, because they, too, to a certain extent, are economic agents. This is my first point. My second point covers his mission. He must open the Defence Ministry to constructive interaction with the research centres and economic agents in the broad sense of the word, the manufacturers of the military-technical products and components that are needed for the production of military equipment. His job is to open the Defence Ministry to innovation. Indeed, Mr Shoigu has taken the initial steps towards this end. However, I believe that given his job functions in the recent past, the former Deputy Prime Minister will find it easier to accomplish this. These were the motives behind appointing him to this position. You all saw Mr Shoigu – it was widely covered – often visit and tour enterprises. He is fully aware of what is going on. He knows what the Armed Forces need in the medium and short term, and knows our industrial capabilities. To a certain extent, he was involved in the contacts with our foreign defence cooperation partners, because the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation was under the Defence Ministry, and he oversaw it. Considering this, he will have an enormous layer of work to deal with. It is all combined now. If you paid attention, I supported the idea of appointing Mr Manturov First Deputy Prime Minister precisely because we plan to focus the administrative resources on achieving the main objective facing the country today which is gaining the special military operation results that we need. Thank you very much.

Diplomacy
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The strategic adjustments of china, india,and the us in the indo-pacific geopolitical context

by Nguyen Tuan Binh , Tran Xuan Hiep , Nguyen Dinh Co

한국어로 읽기Leer en españolIn Deutsch lesen Gap اقرأ بالعربيةLire en françaisЧитать на русском Abstract: Since the beginning of the XXI century, the Indo-Pacific region has become the “focus” of strategic competition between the world‟s great powers. This area included many “choke points” on sea routes that are strategically important for the development of international trade, playing an important role in transporting oil, gas, and goods around the world from the Middle East to Australia and East Asia. The article analysed the geostrategic position of the Indo-Pacific region and the strategic adjustments in foreign affairs of some major powers in this region, specifically the US, China, and India. To achieve this goal, the authors used research methods in international relations to analyse the main issues of the study. In addition to reviewing previous scholarly research and reviews, the authors used a comparative approach to assess the interactions between theory and data. The authors believed that these data are important for accurately assessing the strategic importance of the Indo-Pacific region, and this area was an important trigger for the US, China, and India to make adjustments to its foreign policy. If the US proposed a strategy called “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” (FOIP), India‟s strategy was called the Indo-Pacific Initiative. China‟s Indo-Pacific strategy was clearly expressed through the “String of Pearls” strategy and the “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI). As a result, in the geopolitical context of the Indo-Pacific region, the competition between major powers (the US, China, India...) is also becoming fiercer and more complex. It has a significant impact on other countries in the region. INTRODUCTION Nowadays, the conception of geopolitics has not received a consensus among generations of scholars, and it tends to increase complexity in the international context after the Cold War and create different schools in the study of political science and international relations. This diversity reflects the interplay between the development of theory and the development of international political status and shows the diverse nature of international politics and international political studies. Hans J. Morgenthau, a typical realist theorist (1948), said, “International politics, like every other kind of politics, is a power struggle. Whatever the ultimate aims of international politics, power is always the immediate aim” (p. 13). In geopolitics, this relationship is expanded into a highly complex tripartite relationship between three factors: geography - power - politics. The Britannica Dictionary defines geopolitics as “the analysis of the influence of geography on power relationships in international relations” (Deudney 2013). Geopolitics can be understood as a dialectical next step of the relationship between geography and power. Geography does not fully determine how a power interaction happens, but geography significantly affects any political analysis. It is one of the sources of hard power, but sometimes, it is the leading cause of disputes between powerful actors. Ultimately, increasing ownership of geographical factors will increase power/hard power. This is the last and perhaps the most significant factor enabling an international political actor to prevail in imposing their political will on one or more other political actors. In past centuries, powerful Western countries consistently sought methods to expand their colonies and garrisons, aiming to control major transportation routes worldwide and exploit natural and human resources in their areas of influence or occupation. Their objective was either to maintain hegemony on a global or regional scale or to challenge and contest existing hegemony. This approach is commonly used to explain peace, conflict, competition, and development through a geopolitical lens. Traditional German geopolitics, the birthplace of modern geopolitics, which rose during World War I and flourished under the Third Reich, was influenced by geographical determinism, especially theories that occurred in the mid-twentieth century. The German school believes that geopolitics is the study of space from the state‟s point of view. Specifically, Karl Haushofer asserted that “Geopolitics is the new national science of the state (...) a doctrine on the spatial determinism of all political processes, based on the broad foundations of geography, especially of political geography” (Cohen 2015, 15). In this way, geographical factors are believed to be objective actors that are relatively fixed in nature; the effects of geographical factors on the political policies of a country are considered intuitively cognizable through deductive methods, and their consequences to power interactions in a relevant region can be predicted accurately with the same method of thinking. However, it is more complex and ambiguous due to the diverse coexistence of geographical and non-geographical variables. In the early XXI century, one way to understand shaping theory was not to study geography or politics but from politics to geography or a bidirectional way between two factors. Saul Bernard Cohen‟s point of view is one of the most common conceptions of the impact of geography on politics. Cohen (2003): “Geopolitics is the analysis of the interaction between, on the one hand, geographical settings and perspectives and, on the other hand, political processes. (…) Both geographical settings and political processes are dynamic, and each influence and is influenced by the other. Geopolitics addresses the consequences of this interaction” (Cohen 2015, 16). The point of view of Yves Lacoste (French geographer) represents the opposite. He noted that: The term „geopolitics‟ is understood in a variety of ways. It refers to all things that involve the competition for power or influence over territories and the people living there, the competition between all types of political powers, which is not only countries but also political movements or secret armed groups, the competition for controlling or dominating large or small territories (Lacoste 2012, 28). We ignore the extension of the political interaction entities, and this definition shows that “competition” between political entities plays a leading role in this idea of geopolitics. There are two points we need to expand from this conception of geopolitics. The first is the purpose of the disputes, though often the manifest purpose rather than the latent purpose is to own natural and human sources. The second is competition between political entities, which is organic interaction, like what Foucault recognizes as power. These traditional ways of studying were challenged by the School of critical geopolitics, which occurred and developed at the beginning of the XXI century. the XXI century. According to critical geopolitics, which comes from the social structuralism approach, when experts in state administration create ideas about geographical locations, these ideas influence and underpin their political behaviour and policy choices. And these ideas affect how people process their concepts of place and politics. This tendency has led researchers to focus on analyzing geographical discourses to identify underlying assumptions about power. This aims to break the major concepts of international politics (Flint 2006; Toal 2006). The conceptual awareness of critical geopolitics has been abandoned (Fouberg et al. 2012, 535). In this article, we maintain a unified concept of terminology. Concepts that begin with the prefix “geo” are usually theories of behaviour or policies (military, economic, politics, etc.) of one or more states through geographical, natural, or humanistic aspects rather than focusing on the influence of geographical variables only. Prefix concepts (“geo”, short for geography) should be in the politics/political science sub-disciplines rather than in geography. THE GEOPOLITICAL IMPORTANCE OF THE INDO-PACIFIC REGION The Indo-Pacific region is situated along the coasts of the Indian Ocean and the Western Pacific Ocean, with seas connecting these two vast bodies of water. The Indo-Pacific region is home to more than half of the world‟s population and has abundant resources and strategically significant international sea lanes. It is one of the most dynamic economic regions, fostering cooperation and growth between developed and developing economies. Interestingly, the term “Indo-Pacific” is not novel but instead borrowed from the field of geo-biology, where it denotes tropical waters stretching from the western coast of the Indian Ocean to the Western Pacific Ocean. The term “Indo-Pacific” with a geopolitical connotation was first mentioned by Gurpreet S. Khurana, Director of the National Maritime Foundation in New Delhi (India). In the article “Security of Sea Lines: Prospects for India-Japan Cooperation”, published in Strategic Analysis in 2007, G. S. Khurana defined the Indo-Pacific as a maritime space connecting the Indian Ocean with the Western Pacific Ocean, bordering all countries in Asia (including West Asia, Middle East) and East Africa (Khurana 2007, 150). He argued that India and Japan‟s common and core interests in the maritime domain would be complex to secure if the Indian and Pacific oceans were divided in strategic perception. Thus, the term “Indo-Pacific” was born as a new regional strategic vision. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in his address to the Indian Parliament in 2007, restored an ancient geographical view of Asia called “The Confluence of the Two Seas” (Chandra and Ghoshal 2018, 34), considering it a “dynamic coupling as seas of freedom and of prosperity” (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan 2007) in Asia, set the target of linking the Pacific Ocean with the Indian Ocean to become the “Indo-Pacific” region, replacing the term of “Asia-Pacific”. The “Indo-Pacific” concept is supposed to be a geopolitical concept associated with countries inside and outside the geographical boundaries of the Asia-Pacific. Since 2010, this concept has become increasingly prevailing in strategic and geopolitical discourse and is employed by policymakers, experts, and scholars worldwide. Besides the geographical reference to the connection between the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean, the concept also has strategic and geopolitical significance, reflecting strategic changes, particularly in maritime security. Regarding geographical space, the “Indo-Pacific” term is a connecting space between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, which combines these two oceans into a singular regional construct (Berkofsky and Miracola 2019, 13). This region mainly stretches from the east coast of Africa to the west coast of the US. Indo-Pacific is located along the Indian Ocean and the Western Pacific Ocean, with the seas connecting these two oceans, including Northeast Asian, Southeast Asian, and South Asian countries, as well as many Middle East and African countries. Regarding the roles, functions, connectivity, and interdependence of the two oceans, the Indo-Pacific has a diversity of ethnicities, religions, cultures, languages, and politics. This region has rich resources and important sea lanes, has the three largest economies in the world (the US, China, and Japan), is one of the most dynamic regions in terms of economy, and can support and promote each other between developed and developing economies. The Indo-Pacific has 9/10 busiest seaports in the world. About 60% of the world‟s maritime trade passes through this region, of which a third passes through the South China Sea (The US Department of Defense 2019). In addition, the sea route in the Indian Ocean is vital for transporting oil, gas, and goods worldwide, from the Middle East to Australia and East Asia. This is also a famously unstable sea with piracy and terrorism. Therefore, ensuring security for the lifeline of the world economy has received special attention from many countries. Almost 90 percent of global trade and 2/3 of hydrocarbons have been transported across oceans, most concentrated in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The Indian Ocean, in particular, carries over half of all global container shipping capacity and accounts for around 70% of all transshipment hydrocarbons. The Indian Ocean is one of the busiest international maritime trade channels, accounting for 1/9 of global seaports and 1/5 of the world‟s import and export cargo (Zhu 2018, 4). Every year, more than 100,000 ships pass through the Indian Ocean, including 2/3 of the oil tankers, 1/3 of the large cargo ships, and 1/2 of the container ships in the world (Kumar and Hussain 2016, 151). Strategically, the Indo-Pacific is viewed as a seamless structure connected by the strait of Malacca, the leading trade route connecting the two oceans. Two rationales explain the Indo-Pacific‟s strategic potential: Firstly, China‟s footprint throughout this region; secondly, the relative weakening of the US alliance system and its attempt to revive it (Das 2019). With topographical tectonics, the Indo-Pacific is also an area that holds the world‟s most important sea lanes and is home to strategic “choke points” of the world - the Suez Canal, Bab-el-Mandeb and the Strait of Hormuz to the northwest, the Mozambique Channel to the southwest and the Strait of Malacca (the strategic connection point between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean), the Sunda Strait, and the Lombok Strait in the southeast and the Cape of Good Hope. In particular, the Strait of Hormuz accounts for 40% of global crude oil shipments. Between Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia, the Strait of Malacca holds half the world‟s merchant shipping tonnage (Kaplan 2010, 7). In the context of increasing tensions in the South China Sea, the strategic location of the Strait of Malacca has become the focus of attention of countries whose economies are heavily dependent on this nasopharyngeal shipping route. Currently, the amount of oil transported through this strait is three times higher than the Suez Canal and 15 times larger than the Panama Canal (Tan 2011, 93). It can be said that the Indo-Pacific region has the most critical position for international maritime trade and the intersection of the political and economic strategic interests of many powerful countries. This region plays an increasingly important role in the XXI century, becoming the focus and center of world power. However, the Indo-Pacific is witnessing geopolitical competition and competition of interests among major powers. The US, China, India, Japan, and Australia have all made strategic adjustments to increase their influence and protect their interests in this region. The XXI century is considered “the century of seas and oceans” and is accompanied by fierce competition among world powers to gain strategic interests in the seas. In the past, nations primarily focused on competition for military objectives, geostrategic bases, and maritime traffic routes. However, in contemporary times, countries worldwide have shifted their focus towards competing for economic advantages and marine resources. The advancement of military capabilities and endeavours to vie for resources at sea increasingly indicate a trend toward leveraging maritime control to influence continental affairs. The “sea power” theory of US foremost thinker on naval warfare and maritime strategy - Alfred T. Mahan, has generated a premise for nations promoting sea power: “Control of the sea, by maritime commerce and naval supremacy, means predominant influence in the world; because however great the wealth product of the land, nothing facilitates the necessary exchanges as does the sea” (Mahan 1897, 124). Maritime security in the Indo-Pacific region has therefore become a “hot” focus in the maritime foreign policy agenda of powers. For the time being, the Indo-Pacific region is by and large peaceful and secure; however, it is confronted with some maritime security challenges: Firstly, regarding maritime disputes, there are about 40 maritime disputes between countries in the region, which could be disputes over territorial sovereignty or sovereign rights over the waters. Many disputes, including those in the East China Sea, South China Sea, Indian Ocean, or Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, are viewed as potential flashpoints for a Sino-US war or even a Third World War (Echle et al. 2020, 126). While direct armed conflicts have yet to erupt in these areas, they serve as the underlying cause of the region‟s escalating security challenges. These conflicts stem primarily from the diverse security needs of numerous countries in the region. Moreover, given their strategic significance, these areas represent complex issues in Indo-Pacific maritime security, highlighting the intricate nature of the disputes. Secondly, piracy and armed robbery have driven the Strait of Malacca, the South China Sea, and the Indian Ocean to the top of the list of the most dangerous waters. In 2018, the number of piracy and robbery cases in these areas was 8, 57, and 25, respectively, placing them second only to West Africa, which had 81 cases (International Maritime Organization, 2019, 2). While the number of piracy cases in the South China Sea and Indian Ocean decreased to 34 and 10, piracy cases in Malacca Strait increased to 45 in 2019 (International Maritime Organization 2020, 2). Another notable transnational maritime security issue in the Indo-Pacific is piracy off the coast of Somalia, which affects the waters of the Gulf of Aden, the Arabian Sea, and the Western Indian Ocean (Elleman et al. 2010, 210). In response to this threat, the United Nations Security Council has passed Resolution 1816, which states that cooperating countries may enter Somali territorial waters and use all necessary means to combat piracy and armed robbery (Klein 2011, 280). Thirdly, alongside piracy, the Indo-Pacific region serves as a focal point for terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda and Al-Shabab. Following the 11 September terrorist attacks (commonly known as 9/11), countries including Singapore, Malaysia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia have consistently coordinated their naval forces to combat terrorism in the Strait of Malacca, safeguarding oil tankers traversing the area. Additionally, new maritime security risks are emerging, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region, as terrorists exploit the Malay Archipelago as a sanctuary to identify vulnerable targets in the region and collaborate with extremists, Islamic insurgents, or members of organized crime networks. This fear has become much more real since the 2002 Bali bombings (Tan 2011, 91). Furthermore, terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda, Abu Sayyaf, and Jemaah Islamiyah have extended maritime terrorism into Southeast Asia, affecting the broader region. The bombing of Super Ferry 14 in the Philippines in 2004 stands as the deadliest maritime terrorist attack globally to date, claiming the lives of 116 individuals (Safety4Sea 2019). Lastly, drug trafficking and human trafficking are frequent transnational concerns in the Indo-Pacific. Many multinational organized criminal groups rely heavily on drug trafficking by water for a significant portion of their revenue. Drugs produced in Afghanistan, India, and Indonesia are transported by sea to other countries via illegal markets. The manufacture and transport of drugs are rising in the Indo-Pacific region, and criminal groups are exploiting the Malacca Strait as their primary distribution route to Southeast Asia countries (Zulkifli et al. 2020, 19). Moreover, the human trafficking issue remains unresolved as the coast guard, or the security department of port and ship facilities cannot predict the consequences. Furthermore, one of the threats to maritime security in the Indo-Pacific region is arms trafficking. Most of the arms trade was carried by criminal organizations by sea in containers from southern Thailand to Aceh, Bangladesh, India, and Sri Lanka via the Malacca Strait and the Andaman Sea (Zulkifli et al. 2020, 19). The increase in arms trade is a significant contributor to the rise in maritime crime, particularly in Southeast Asia and the broader Indo-Pacific region. Consequently, territorial and maritime sovereignty disputes, coupled with the intricate linkages between transnational crime, piracy, and terrorism, have heightened the complexity of security threats in the marine domain. These developments strongly influence the adaptation of foreign strategies by several major powers, including China, India, and the United States. THE STRATEGIC ADJUSTMENTS OF SOME MAJOR POWERFUL COUNTRIES FOR THE INDO-PACIFIC REGION The Indo-Pacific region, with nearly half of the Earth‟s population, is at the center of the world‟s political and economic strategic interests. Currently, being rich in resources, many “throat” sea routes, and most dynamic economic and trade activities, this region plays an increasingly important role in the XXI century and beyond. However, the Indo-Pacific has been experiencing intense geopolitical competition, increasing pressure on trade and supply chains, and tensions in the technology, political, and security sectors. Great powers such as the US, China, India, Japan, and Australia have all made strategic adjustments to increase their influence and protect their interests in this region. United States of America Although not the first country to propose the Indo-Pacific concept, the US pioneered executing and implementing the Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) strategy. In recent years, the power has responded to global geopolitical changes by developing an Indo-Pacific strategy that seeks to rebalance the US to Asia as a counterweight to China‟s rise, developing alliances and partnerships to strengthen the Washington authority‟s interests over a large area stretching from the west coast of India to the west coast of the country. The US first coined the term “Indo-Pacific” through Secretary of State Hillary Clinton‟s official speech in Honolulu in October 2010. In 2017, following his inauguration, President Donald Trump intensified the term “Indo-Pacific” in official policy discourse (Turner and Parmar 2020, 229). In early June 2019, the US Department of Defense officially announced the Indo-Pacific Strategy Report for the first time. This strategy aims to enhance the US‟s bilateral alliances and multilateral cooperation mechanisms across economic, security, and maritime domains, establishing a comprehensive network spanning South, Southeast, and Northeast Asia. Subsequently, in November 2019, the US Department of State released a Progress Report detailing the implementation of the Indo-Pacific strategy. These developments underscore the significance of US engagement in the Indo-Pacific region as a top priority in President Donald Trump‟s foreign policy agenda. President Donald Trump chose the Indo-Pacific to underscore India‟s historical and contemporary significance in the region while affirming US interests and those of other countries. During a press conference in early April 2018, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Alex N. Wong elaborated on the concept, offering insights into how the Trump administration defines “freedom” and “openness”. According to Wong, “freedom” in the strategy primarily emphasizes international freedom, aiming for countries in the Indo-Pacific region to pursue their paths without coercion. At the national level, the US seeks to foster societies in the region that gradually embrace freedom, characterized by good governance, protection of fundamental rights, transparency, and anti-corruption measures. On the other hand, “openness” is primarily focused on expanding sea and air traffic. Maritime traffic is crucial to the region‟s vitality, as approximately 50% of international trade traverses the Indo-Pacific, mainly through the East Sea. Therefore, expanding sea and air routes in the Indo-Pacific is increasingly vital and significant on a global scale (Le 2018). The US‟s “Vision for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific” was born for two primary reasons. Firstly, it stems from the internal factors of the US that are associated with the vital nature of national security and the role of the US in the world. As an area adjacent to many oceans, gateways, and throats connecting the US with the world, the Indo-Pacific has always been considered by the US to be a critical geostrategic area, directly affecting national security and the world leadership role of America. Implementing the FOIP strategy is a way for the US to protect national interests, ensure the freedom and security of maritime traffic, maintain the balance of forces, and promote diplomatic activities and society-culture exchanges in the area. Second, stemming from the regional security situation, China‟s rise along with construction and militarization in the East Sea are seen as threatening the free flow of trade, threatening to narrow the sovereignty of countries, and reducing stability and security in the region. Not only that, but China‟s BRI is also challenging the US‟s leadership role in the Indo-Pacific region - where there is no multilateral mechanism on security, mainly based on bilateral agreements and arrangements, such as the US-Japan Security Treaty, the US-South Korea bilateral defense treaty (Pham and Vu 2020, 103-104). The US‟s Free and Open Indo-Pacific strategy is constructed upon three fundamental pillars: security, economy, and governance. The objectives of this strategy are multifaceted. Firstly, it aims to sustain long-term US leadership within the Indo-Pacific region and globally, particularly in light of China (and Russia) being explicitly identified by the US as America‟s primary strategic competitors in the National Security Strategy of 2017 and the National Defense Strategy of 2018. Secondly, the strategy promotes free, fair, and reciprocal trade. The US opposes trade deficits and unfair trade practices by other nations, instead demanding equal and responsible behaviour from its trading partners. Thirdly, it aims to uphold open sea and airspace within the region. Fourthly, it effectively addresses traditional and non-traditional security challenges, including North Korea‟s nuclear program. Lastly, the strategy strives to ensure adherence to the rule of law and the protection of individual rights (The US Department of Defense 2019). The US‟s Free and Open Indo-Pacific strategy focuses on ensuring the country‟s interests, focusing on the “4P” formula in a clear order of priority: prosperity, peace, power through the deployment of American power, and finally, influence through American values and principles – Principles (Nguyen 2021a, 49). US‟s Indo-Pacific Strategy is expected that the vital sea lanes of the Indo-Pacific will “create the foundation for the global trade and prosperity” (The US Department of Defense 2019). Therefore, the US strives to promote a Free and Open Indo-Pacific by promoting economic, governance, and security linkages. The core goal of the US‟s Indo-Pacific strategy is to build an alliance axis, Quadrilateral Security Dialogue1 (QUAD) (including the US, Japan, Australia, and India) to curb and prevent China‟s rise in the region, gain dominance, and control the entire region, thereby continuing to maintain the economic interests, political power, military and diplomatic power of the US (Pham and Vu 2020, 103). This is one of the main pillars that help to realize this connectivity strategy between the two oceans. The QUAD aims to foster the sharing of common interests, values, and perceptions of security threats among the four member countries. This collaboration aims to establish a balanced power dynamic that upholds a “rules-based” order in the Indo-Pacific region. On 12 March 2021, the QUAD officially convened online to reaffirm its primary maritime security mission. The overarching objective is to counteract China‟s growing regional and global influence (The White House 2021a). Besides QUAD, on 15 September 2021, the US, UK, and Australia officially announced establishing a tripartite security partnership in the Indo-Pacific region (AUKUS). The first step can confirm that AUKUS is a new structure prone to “triangle” security in the Indian Ocean. The Pacific Ocean space aims to protect and maintain the shared interests of the parties in this region. A joint statement by US President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson affirmed the partnership in AUKUS “guided by the enduring ideals and shared commitment to the international rules-based order” (The White House 2021b). This alliance aims to “help sustain peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region” (The White House 2021b). [1] The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD) was established in 2007 with four member countries: the US, Australia, Japan, and India. Its primary objective was to establish a trans-Pacific economic mechanism, potentially serving as the nucleus of the Asia-Pacific Economic Forum (APEC). After a 10-year hiatus, the QUAD group officially resumed the four-way dialogue in 2017, elevating it to a dialogue of foreign ministers. This resurgence occurred amidst heightened tensions between the US and China across various fronts, with Beijing's assertive behaviour posing security concerns for Japan, India, and Australia (Buchan and Rimland 2020, 3; Brunnstrom 2017). Therefore, the US‟s efforts to promote strategic cooperation, enhance engagement across economic, political, and security domains, and forge partnerships and alliances with regional countries reflect its ambitions in the Indo-Pacific. The Free and Open strategy serves as an extension of the “America First” policy, gradually bolstering the role and preserving the influence of the US in the region. China As a major power in Asia and globally, China inevitably focuses on strategically significant regions like the Indo-Pacific. Since the Cold War, particularly in the first two decades of the XXI century, China‟s ascendance has profoundly impacted global development, reshaping power distribution worldwide. This perspective is echoed by Robert D. Kaplan, a professor at the US Naval Academy: “China is currently changing the balance of power in the Eastern Hemisphere. On land and at sea, its influence extends from Central Asia to the Russian Far East and from the East Sea to the Indian Ocean” (Kaplan 2012, 200). China has stepped up its presence in the Indo-Pacific with the “String of Pearls” strategy and the “Belt and Road” Initiative (BRI). “String of pearls” is a term coined by American analysts to describe China‟s network of shipping lanes extending from southern China to the Indian Ocean, traversing strategic points such as the Strait of Mandab, the Strait of Malacca, the Strait of Hormuz, and the Strait of Lombok. It also encompasses other fundamental naval interests, including Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the Maldives, and Somalia. Within this network, notable installations such as the military base on Hainan Island, the container shipping facility in Chittagong (Bangladesh), the deep-water port in Sittwe, the Kyaukpyu port, the Yangon port (Myanmar), the naval base in Gwadar (Pakistan), and the Hambantota port in Sri Lanka are referred to as the “jewels” or “pearls”. This chain of “pearls” extends from the coast of China, through the East Sea, the Strait of Malacca, across the Indian Ocean, and to the reefs of the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf (Kaplan 2012, 200). Each “jewel” within the “String of Pearls” represents China‟s geopolitical influence or military presence in key regions such as the Indo-Pacific, the East Sea, and other strategically significant seas. Through this strategy, China aims to extend its influence from Hainan in the East Sea through the world‟s busiest sea lanes towards the Persian Gulf. The primary objectives include restraining India, ensuring energy security, and asserting control over vital shipping lanes (Tran 2012, 77). To implement the “String of Pearls” strategy, China has improved relations with most of India‟s neighbours, including Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. In that context, Myanmar is a place that China can use as a springboard for its ambitions to expand its sphere of influence into Southeast Asia and South Asia (Gupta 2013, 82). Myanmar has an important strategic position between two major Asian countries, China and India. Besides, Myanmar is a coastal country in the Indian Ocean, so for Chinese policymakers, Myanmar is increasingly of more strategic value to China. Myanmar is strategically important to India and a key player in China‟s ambitions to reach the Indian Ocean. Myanmar is the only neighbouring country that can give China access to the Indian Ocean from the east, namely the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea (Myo 2015, 26-27). China’s moves in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea are the first steps to ensure China’s best interests in the Indian Ocean. China has also assisted Myanmar in developing naval bases at Sittwe, Hianggyi, Khaukphyu, Mergui, and Zadetkyi Kyun by building refuelling facilities and radar stations for Chinese submarines to operate on the Bay of Bengal (Singh 2007, 3). These facilities gather intelligence on Indian Navy activities and are forward bases for Chinese Navy operations in the Indian Ocean. With India‟s naval expansion efforts at a standstill, the Chinese Navy‟s growing presence in the region has had enormous strategic consequences for India because India‟s traditional geographical advantages are increasingly threatened by China‟s ability to penetrate deeper into Myanmar. According to US military experts, the “String of Pearls” is the basis for China to inspect and monitor all vital sea lanes in Asia and the world, curb India, Japan, and Korea, and gain the advantage of direct access to strategic locations in the Pacific. “String of Pearls” strategy, China strengthens ties with regional countries through aid, trade, and defense agreements and launches new cooperation initiatives. In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping launched the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). This initiative consists of two main parts: (i) The Silk Road Economic Belt (also known as the Land Silk Road) is a roadway designed with three branches (from China to Central Asia and Russia to Europe, from China through Central Asia, West Asia to the Persian Gulf, the Mediterranean Sea, from China to Southeast Asia, South Asia and the Indian Ocean); (ii) Maritime Silk Road in the XXI century aims to build transport routes between major ports in different countries, including the development of an economic corridor across the Indian Ocean, connecting China with South Asia, the Middle East, Africa and the Mediterranean (Pham 2019, 31-32). The objectives of this BRI are: first, to expand the strategic space and create a backyard area of China to control the Eurasian - African continent, creating a counterbalance to the US‟s Indo-Pacific strategy; second, dominate the Indian and Pacific Ocean regions, control related shipping lanes and regional seaport systems, dominate oil and gas supplies, establish military bases in these areas through which these roads pass; third, create a socio-economic environment for the expansion of China‟s “soft power”; fourth, build a security perimeter around China to prevent the US and its allies from entering the area that Beijing considers its “backyard”, supporting China to go out into the world; fifth, promote regional economic cooperation, rely on economic cooperation to promote political relations, create a catalyst to solve problems in relations between China and countries in the region, prevent the contraction of countries in the region that have disputes with China, including the issue of maritime and island disputes; sixth, through the “5 channels” (through policy, communication (on land, at sea), trade, currency and people) to access, penetrate and control the regional economy in order to promote economic development in the region to take control of international trade, the right to evaluate and the right to distribute international resources; seventh, solve the problem of excess production capacity, find a market for stagnant goods, find an investment market, effectively use China‟s huge foreign exchange reserves, find a market for the yuan, speeding up the process of internationalization of the renminbi; Eighth, access to energy resources, especially oil and gas; Ninth, take advantage of the surrounding environment to create conditions for more equal development among regions in the country, especially the border areas, western China (Dinh 2021, 7-8). China‟s BRI prioritizes the maritime sector when it proposes the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road” to connect seaports, one of the two main connections between China and Europe (Kuo and Kommenda 2018). It can be said that the BRI aims at strategic goals in terms of politics, security, economy, territorial sovereignty, and building a new framework of rules of the game in the region and the world, in which China plays a leading role (Tran 2017, 100). In addition, to counterbalance the Indo-Pacific strategy of the US and the QUAD, China has strengthened its relations with Russia and Iran by strengthening the Sino-Russian alliance in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and admitted Iran to this organization on 17 September 2021. China, Russia, and Iran have formed a “new maritime power triangle” and are preparing to launch a joint maritime exercise in the Persian Gulf. Previously, in December 2019, these three countries also conducted a joint maritime exercise in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Oman in the context of tensions between Washington and Tehran showing signs of escalation. India As a continental power occupying a strategic position in the heart of the Indian Ocean, India has become a prominent player in the Indo-Pacific region and one of the countries deploying manoeuvres to adjust foreign strategy. India‟s “Look East” policy (implemented since 1992) has extended India‟s foreign strategy to Southeast and East Asian countries. Over the years, India‟s regional involvement has shifted from economic ties to security cooperation. Prime Minister Narendra Modi‟s “Act East” policy (implemented since 2014) underpins India‟s approach to the Indo-Pacific region, in which this foreign policy will strengthen India‟s participation through strategic partnerships. In addition, the country has its vision for the Indo-Pacific region. India wants to promote peace and stability through an equal approach at sea and air, freedom of navigation, combating maritime crime, protecting the marine environment, and developing a green economy (Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India 2018). In 2015, in the Report “Ensuring Maritime Security: India‟s Maritime Security Strategy”, India clearly stated that its strategic vision shifted from the Euro-Atlantic to the Indo-Pacific, associated with the “Act East” policy. In his speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue (June 2016), Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid out India‟s vision for the Indo-Pacific region, emphasizing India‟s participation in organizations, taking ASEAN as the center of the region, such as the East Asia Summit (EAS), the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting Plus (ADMM+). Indian Prime Minister N. Modi first announced the Indo-Pacific Initiative during his speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue held on 1 June 2018 in Singapore. Prime Minister N. Modi affirmed, “The Indo-Pacific is a natural region (...) India does not see the Indo-Pacific Region as a strategy or as a club of limited members” (Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India 2018). On 4 November 2019, Prime Minister N. Modi once again mentioned this idea at the 14th East Asia Summit (EAS), held in Bangkok (Thailand), which “propose a cooperative effort to translate principles for the Indo-Pacific into measures to secure the shared maritime environment” (Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India 2019). This proposal also transforms India‟s conception of the Indo-Pacific region into practical and enforceable measures in the maritime domain. Regarding the policy, India has demonstrated its determination to implement the Indo-Pacific Initiative through the establishment of a Directorate-General for the Indo-Pacific under the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) since April 2019, based on merging international organizations, such as ASEAN, the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and the QUAD including the US, Japan, Australia, and India. In September 2020, India continued to establish the Directorate for Oceania in the MEA to promote India‟s administrative and diplomatic fields, stretching from the Western Pacific Ocean to the Andaman Sea. India‟s Indo-Pacific Initiative consists of 7 pillars, including 1) Marine security, 2) Marine ecosystems, 3) Marine resources, 4) Capacity building and resource sharing, 5) Disaster risk reduction and management, 6) Technology and trade cooperation, and 7) Connectivity and shipping, which can be grouped into six groups: 1) Maritime security; 2) Marine ecosystems and marine resources; 3) Building maritime enforcement capacity and information sharing; 4) Manage and reduce disaster risks; 5) Science and technology cooperation; 6) Trade connection and sea transportation (Nguyen 2021). India‟s approach to this strategy is inclusive and transcends traditional security issues or geopolitical challenges. India also wants to promote cooperation in environmental issues related to the sea and ocean sectors. Through the Indo-Pacific Initiative, India wishes to lead, chair, and coordinate in cooperation inside and outside the region, especially with small and medium-sized countries. Compared to the US‟s Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy, India expands the geographical reach of the region under the Indo-Pacific Initiative, whereby the Indo-Pacific covers the African coast to the west of the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea, including neighbouring countries in the Gulf, islands in the Arabian Sea and the African region. By asserting “both geographical poles” of the Indo-Pacific Initiative, India emphasizes the balance between the two groups of policies, “Act East” and “Act West”, forming an integral part of the country‟s strategy in the Indo-Pacific region. For India, strengthening security cooperation with the US, forging a special strategic partnership with Japan, and maintaining the relationship with Australia are strategic focuses in shaping economic and security architecture in the region based on the “diamond quadrilateral” alliance. At the same time, to connect with the open Indo-Pacific space, India also strengthened ties with Asian, European, and African countries. CONCLUSION Due to the Indo-Pacific region‟s current structural makeup, the major regional powers have gradually turned it into a strategic area of power competition. Countries interested in the region actively participate in the Indo-Pacific regional architecture and seek ways to strengthen their positions to act as a counterweight in regional international affairs. Today, the Indo-Pacific is seen as a crucial element in the changes in global geopolitics and the focal point of numerous power struggles. In this region, besides the US, two Asian powers play a major role in regional security, China and India, because both countries seem to be putting all their efforts into improving regional security, greater competition than other areas due to their position. India is prepared and actively involved in a motivated strategy against China in the Indo-Pacific, in contrast to other regions where it has historically been more passive and weaker. India is moving toward the US in this competition but maintaining a neutral stance. Additionally, it is working to increase influence and fortify multilateral ties to close the power gap with China. With regard to China‟s growing influence in the region and its security implications for India and other regional countries, there exists a wide pessimism, particularly in Western analyses. It is quite pertinent to point out here that the India - China relationship is nicely balanced between the elements of cooperation and conflict, like that of the US-China relationship. Especially there is enough space in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond to accommodate both rising China and India. They can coexist and grow peacefully. However, the trends and issues will ostensibly continue to unfold in the region with greater worrying security concerns. In the coming years, maritime security within the Indo-Pacific region will be a key factor in the development of many countries. It, however, remains a major concern in the area because of the growing non-traditional security threats, in addition to maritime boundary disputes. Particularly, events in the SCS will continue to attract much of the regional and international attention. These could engulf the regional and international stakeholder‟s capability to maintain peace, security, and stability within the region in a sustained and effective manner. Most importantly, countries in the Indo-Pacific region share many of these common concerns. Invigorating greater cooperation and coherence in their strategy could help address the problems collectively. Moreover, establishing an Indo-Pacific Regional Security Architecture will be very handy in addressing common security concerns and threats. As a result, as the Indo-Pacific area is being shaped, the competition between the major powers is also becoming more complex and severe, significantly impacting the other nations in the region. In short, during the first two decades of the XXI century, the Indo-Pacific region has witnessed constant competition among numerous world powers. The region‟s strategic, economic, and commercial significance has positioned it at the heart of global contention, reshaping the character of international politics. The Indo-Pacific has become the focal point of international conflicts and power dynamics, heralding a significant new geopolitical landscape in the XXI century. It can be asserted that the power competition among these nations will shape the interaction patterns among Indo-Pacific countries in the ensuing years of this century. 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The US Department of Defense 2019. “Indo-Pacific Strategy Report: Preparedness, Partnerships, and Promoting a Networked Region”, available at: https://media.defense.gov/2019/Jul/01/2002152311/-1/-1/1/DEPARTMENT-OF-DEFENSE-INDO-PACIFIC-STRATEGY-REPORT-2019.PDF(20 May 2021). 38. The White House 2021. “Joint Leaders Statement on AUKUS”, available at:https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/09/15/joint-leaders-statement-on-aukus/(15 September 2022). 39. The White House 2021. “Quad Leaders‟ Joint Statement: „The Spirit of the Quad‟”, available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/03/12/quad-leaders-joint-statement-the-spirit-of-the-quad/ (12 March 2022). 40. Tran, N. T. 2012. “Chiến lược “Chuỗi ngọc trai” và mục tiêu trở thành cường quốc biển của Trung Quốc trong thế kỷ XXI” [The "String of Pearls" Strategy and China's Goal of Becoming a Maritime Power in the 21st Century]. Chinese Studies Review, Vietnam, 1(125): 64-80. 41. Tran, V. T. 2017. “Vành đai, Con đường": Hướng tới Giấc mộng Trung Hoa" [The Belt and Road: Towards the "Chinese Dream"]. Journal of Communism, Vietnam, 895: 100-05. 42. Tuathail, G., Dalby, S. & Routledge, P. 1998. “The Geopolitics Reader”. New York: Routledge. 43. Turner, O. & Parmar, I. 2020. “The US in the Indo-Pacific: Obama‟s legacy and the Trump transition”. Manchester: Manchester University Press. 44. Zhu, C. 2018. “India‟s Ocean: Can China and India Coexist?”. Singapore: Social Sciences Academic Press and Springer. 45. Zulkifli, N. I., Raja, R. I., Rahman, Abdul, A. A. & Yasid, Mohd, A. F. 2020. “Maritime Cooperation in the Straits of Malacca (2016-2020): Challenges and Recommendations for a New Framework”. Asian Journal of Research in Education and Social Sciences, 2(2):10-32.

Diplomacy
PARIS, FRANCE - February 8, 2023: French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky with Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the Elysée Palace

The Impact of the War in Ukraine on the European Union

by Tomasz G. Grosse

한국어로 읽기Leer en españolIn Deutsch lesen Gap اقرأ بالعربيةLire en françaisЧитать на русском French and German credibility has reached new lows on the Ukraine issue, risking European security as each seeks to sure up political and geopolitical influence. Solidarity is weak, and arms corporations have proven influential in national decisions for EU integration on security matters. In the numerous crises that hit the European Union (EU) in the 21st century – the role of the so-called “integration engine,” as the French-German duopoly is called – was crucial. However, after Moscow’s aggression against Ukraine in 2022, both integration leaders from Western Europe receded into the background. The leaders of aid for fighting Ukraine were mainly the countries of NATO’s eastern flank, led by Poland and the Baltic states. Germany and France defended themselves against too radical sanctions imposed on Moscow, did not support Kiev, and did not want, among other things, either Ukraine’s accession to the EU nor to NATO. Why did Paris and Berlin distance themselves from Russian aggression in 2022, which violated European values and human rights and also threatened the EU itself? In short, the war hit various economic interests that France and Germany conducted with Vladimir Putin’s regime. An example of this was the expansion of Nord Stream, a gas pipeline through the Baltic Sea, after Putin’s first military aggression against eastern Ukraine in 2014. It is worth recalling that the entire climate transformation in the EU in its initial phase was based on cheap Russian gas. Economic ties were not the only reason for the strange behavior of Berlin and Paris in the face of Moscow’s aggression. Geopolitical considerations were even more important. The elites of Western Europe have traditionally, with minor interruptions, cooperated with Russia and considered it an important economic and political partner. The geopolitical goal of both Western European countries was to seek strategic autonomy from Washington and rapprochement with Moscow and Beijing. Historically, Central Eastern Europe has been treated as an area of influence of Berlin and Moscow, which they share or (less frequently) compete for. Before 2022, for Berlin, this sphere of influence included the Central European countries and the Baltic states; for Moscow, this included Belarus and Ukraine. This is why, among other things, Western Europe distanced itself from Moscow’s aggression in 2022. It did not want to spoil relations with Moscow. It also did not want to provoke even greater Russian aggression, fearing a full-scale war with NATO. Western Europe wanted to reach an agreement with Putin as quickly as possible and return to the previous economic and geopolitical arrangement. However, in 2024, there was a clear change in Western Europe’s position towards the war in Ukraine. First, Germany increased its financial and military assistance, although it continued to block the delivery to Kiev of the most modern weapons requested by President Volodymyr Zelensky. France and Germany increased the scope of sanctions imposed on Moscow, although they were still full of loopholes that allowed the Kremlin to avoid them. Meanwhile, Berlin and Paris unblocked their veto on Ukraine’s accession to the EU, nevertheless they continued to maintain their opposition to Kiev’s membership in NATO. Under the influence of both Western European countries, the EU’s financial and military assistance to Kiev increased. It was still too small in relation to Ukraine’s needs, and Brussels faced great problems and delays in fulfilling aid declarations. The most radicalized person was President Emmanuel Macron who announced in 2024 that he would send troops to Ukraine. In the same year, German politicians proposed that NATO troops should protect the sky over western Ukraine from the territory of Romania and Poland. What caused this radical turn in Berlin and Paris? First of all, it turned out that both countries were losing credibility in NATO and the EU, and thus political influence in Central Europe and Ukraine. What was no less dangerous – especially for German politicians – was the growing dissatisfaction with their attitude in the US. The Germans feared that Washington would lose trust in Berlin and focus on NATO’s eastern flank, mainly Warsaw. Furthermore, Germany and France believed less and less in renewing good relations with Moscow. They also had little hope that their “neutral attitude” could protect Europe from further aggression by Putin, including his attack on NATO and EU countries. At this point, both Western European countries launched a diplomatic offensive to introduce changes in the European Union. It was primarily about revising EU treaties to strengthen the political influence of the two largest countries in Western Europe. Therefore, it was proposed, among others, the abolition of voting based on unanimity in foreign and defense policy, which gave a decision-making advantage to the countries with the greatest voting power (Germany and France). In addition, efforts were made to strengthen the Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP). The main goal was to increase the production of ammunition and weapons from EU funds. Typically, such actions were aimed at strengthening the potential of arms corporations in Western Europe, as well as limiting arms exports from outside the EU, including from the US and South Korea. It goes without saying that in the event of a real threat from the East, the EU should not limit the transportation of weapons from non-European allies, because Europe itself produces too little ammunition and weapons. Nevertheless, subsequent actions of the European Commission after 2022 clearly rewarded aid for German and French corporations, as well as restricting access to arms imports from outside the EU. These attempts to strengthen the strategic autonomy of the EU against Washington are short-sighted in the face of a real threat on the EU and NATO. Moreover, instead of primarily supporting coordination within NATO, France and Germany have sought to duplicate the structures of the North Atlantic Alliance, focusing on the expansion of EU’s rapid reaction forces (rather than NATO’s rapid reaction forces), which were much more modest in terms of numbers and equipment. In other words, their goals were political, not real defense. The idea was to strengthen Franco-German leadership in Europe, and this was to be achieved by supporting the development of EU structures in the area of security. All these aspirations to expand the CSDP could encounter serious obstacles in implementation. First, Germany and France often disagree on EU security considerations, particularly when it comes to their own national interests. For example, the French were disappointed with Germany’s decision to purchase the American F-35 multi-role fighter capable of carrying nuclear warheads. This affected plans to build a sixth-generation aircraft in cooperation between German, French, and Spanish corporations. Moreover, Berlin was developing its own anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense project in the EU (European Sky Shield Initiative), to which it did not invite the French, and even competed with their own European defense program (La défense aérienne du continent). Therefore, Macron criticized the German shield initiative, which he considered hasty and incomplete. Instead, he promoted a truly “European initiative,” where the French arms industry is the dominant force. Secondly, the actions of France and Germany in the field of defense have been delayed and ineffective. More than two years after the announcement of the famous Zeitenwende, the modernisation of the Bundeswehr, the federal government in Berlin managed to order only eighteen Leopard 2 tanks and twelve Panzerhaubitz 2000. Thirdly, it became increasingly clear early on that Germany and France were not ready to defend NATO’s eastern flank in solidarity, wanting rather to show initiative and leadership in order to maintain geopolitical influence in Europe. In terms of real security, their subsequent ideas were controversial. They were certainly beneficial to their arms corporations. For all these reasons, the credibility of Germany and France has been trending downwards on eastern EU security considerations. For the time being, it is difficult to predict whether the plans of Paris and Berlin will ultimately be implemented and whether cooperation within the CSDP will be strengthened. However, if this does not happen, it will paradoxically be a good solution for the security of the eastern flank. Efforts to defend it will be focused within NATO and, above all, located in the countries most at risk from Moscow’s aggression. This analysis is based on a recent article published by the Journal of International Affairs.

Diplomacy
Main img

Press statement on the occasion of the visit of French President Emmanuel Macron

by Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva

한국어로 읽기 Leer en español In Deutsch lesen Gap اقرأ بالعربية Lire en français Читать на русском Press statement on the occasion of the visit of French President Emmanuel Macron Full statement to the press by the President of the Republic, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, following the visit of French President Emmanuel Macron in Brasília (DF), on March 28, 2024 It is a great joy to reciprocate the hospitality with which my delegation and I were received in Paris when I participated in the Summit for a 'New Global Financial Pact' last June. Over the past three days, we have carried out an extensive agenda that included stops in Belém, home to COP30; Itaguaí, where we have Prosub; and now Brasília, for a State visit. This true marathon gives a sense of the breadth of the cooperation and friendship ties between France and Brazil. Among traditional powers, none are closer to Brazil than France. And among emerging powers, you tell me if any are closer to France than Brazil. In today's highly complex international landscape, the dialogue between our nations serves as a vital bridge connecting the Global South to the developed world, fostering efforts to overcome structural inequalities and achieve a more sustainable planet. Brazil and France are committed to collaborating in advancing a shared global vision through democratic dialogue. A vision grounded in the priority of production over unproductive finance, solidarity over selfishness, democracy over totalitarianism, and sustainability over predatory exploitation. President Macron was able to personally witness that our commitment to the environment is not merely rhetorical. In the past year, we have reduced illegal deforestation in the Amazon by 50%, and we aim to eliminate it entirely by 2030. As a symbol of the revitalization of our partnership, today we embraced a New Action Plan, broadening our collaboration into new arenas. These include financing the ecological and energy transition, advancing in bioeconomy, agriculture, public administration, digital issues, artificial intelligence, and reinforcing human rights and gender equality on our bilateral agenda. This range of topics is reflected in the more than 20 agreements we celebrate today. We discussed the success of the Brazil-France Economic Forum, held yesterday in São Paulo, which had not convened presentially since 2019. We explored ways to expand and diversify trade, which reached 8.4 billion dollars last year and has the potential to grow even further. France is the third-largest investor in Brazil, with a strong presence in sectors such as hospitality, energy, defense, and high technology, which generate employment and income in our country. I presented to President Macron the new investment opportunities in infrastructure and sustainability facilitated by the Growth Acceleration Program (Programa de Aceleração do Crescimento - PAC) and the Neoindustrialization Program. I presented our commitment to combating inequalities as the cornerstone of Brazil's G20 Presidency. Within this context, we are launching a Global Alliance Against Hunger and Poverty. As we mark the 80th anniversary of the Bretton Woods institutions this year, President Macron and I concur on the imperative for the G20 to send a clear message advocating for global governance reform and the reinforcement of multilateralism. We also agree that it is time for the super-rich to pay their fair share of taxes, in line with the proposal for fair and progressive international taxation that Brazil advocates within the G20. As strategic partners, we exchanged views on the major dilemmas facing humanity. Across the globe, democracy is under the shadow of extremism. The denial of politics and the dissemination of "hate speech" are growing and concerning. For this reason, Brazil joined, in 2023, the French initiative Partnership for Information and Democracy and will continue to work to promote and protect the circulation of reliable information. It is time to promote a truly multilateral debate on the governance of artificial intelligence. It is unacceptable for a new divide to emerge, segregating wealthy nations, possessors of this technology, from developing countries where basic internet access remains precarious. I reiterated to President Macron Brazil's unwavering belief in dialogue and the defense of peace. My administration will continue working diligently to ensure that Latin America and the Caribbean remain a conflict-free zone, where dialogue and international law prevail. The Security Council's paralysis in response to the conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza is both alarming and inexplicable. The arguments questioning the obligation to comply with the recent ceasefire directive in Gaza during the month of Ramadan once again undermine the authority of the Council. Discussing a world governed by rules that are not collectively agreed upon signifies a regression of centuries, reverting back to the law of the jungle. Brazil categorically condemns all forms of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. We cannot permit religious intolerance to gain ground among us. Jews, Muslims, and Christians have always lived in perfect harmony in Brazil, contributing to the construction of the modern nation we see today. Dear friend Macron, the Strategic Partnership with France embodies our joint endeavor to modernize and invigorate our economies, prioritizing sustainability and upholding human rights. I am convinced that, even after three intense days, there is still much work ahead of us. The future holds countless possibilities for our countries to cooperate, develop, and create together I look forward to seeing you again soon at the G20 Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Thank you very much.

Diplomacy
Israel-Palestine conflict in the West Bank and Gaza Strip

Political Insights (6): Determinants of the Egyptian Stance on Operation al-Aqsa Flood and the Israeli Aggression on Gaza Strip

by ‘Atef al-Joulani

한국어로 읽기 Leer en español In Deutsch lesen Gap اقرأ بالعربية Lire en français Читать на русском An opinion poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR), published on 20/3/2024, revealed that only 12% of Palestinians were satisfied with Egypt’s stance during Operation al-Aqsa Flood. The survey results suggest that Egypt’s handling of the situation has weakened its role in the Palestine issue and negatively impacted its image, status and regional role. Determinants of the Egyptian Official Position The Egyptian stance on Operation al-Aqsa Flood was shaped by various determinants and influencing factors, foremost among them: 1. The desire to uphold Egypt’s pivotal role in the Palestine issue was driven by its significance in bolstering Egypt’s regional standing and fostering ties with the US. Throughout recent decades, Egypt has aimed to monopolize influence in Palestinian affairs, thwarting the rise of Arab or regional competitors. This ambition extends particularly to managing mediation efforts between Palestinian resistance and Israel, as well as facilitating Palestinian reconciliation. 2. The Camp David Accords have yielded significant benefits, fostering advanced political, economic and security relations with Israel. These ties have notably strengthened during the tenure of Egyptian President ‘Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. 3. The security concern revolves around the potential escalation of sympathetic popular movements for Palestinian resistance, in Egypt and the wider Arab region. There’s apprehension about reigniting the Arab Spring and revitalizing the Arab street, fueled by the profound inspiration from Operation al-Aqsa Flood and the belief in altering the status quo by countering the Zionist project. This sentiment is further compounded by escalating anger over Israeli atrocities in Gaza Strip (GS) and a growing discontent with Arab regimes, either due to perceived neglect of their duty towards Palestine or internal governance failures. 4. Concerns about the significant political and security impact of a potential large-scale displacement of Palestinians from GS to Egyptian territory, which could drag Egypt into conflict with Israel, jeopardize the Camp David Accords, and disrupt the stability of Egyptian-Israeli relations. 5. Ideological reservations within the Egyptian government regarding the Islamic orientation of the Palestinian resistance, particularly amid strained relations with the Egyptian Muslim Brothers (MB) movement and broader skepticism towards Islamic movements in the region. There’s a perception that Egyptian and many Arab officials are hesitant about the victory of the Palestinian resistance in Operation al-Aqsa Flood, fearing potential destabilizing effects on Egypt’s internal dynamics and the broader Islamic movement presence in the region. 6. The Egyptian official stance in the Palestinian landscape is characterized by strong alignment with the Palestinian Authority (PA) and its political objectives. Egypt maintains cautious and unfavorable relations with Hamas, showing reservations towards its resistance efforts and its inclination to maintain an independent stance and political autonomy in managing relations with Egypt and other Arab and regional entities. 7. The Egyptian economy has been grappling with a deteriorating economic crisis, marked by the sharp depreciation of the Egyptian pound against the US dollar. This situation prompted urgent foreign intervention to stabilize the economy. Notably, on 23/2/2023, Egypt signed a $35 billion deal with the UAE for the Ras al-Hekma development project. Further assistance came from the European Union, which announced a substantial financial support package for Egypt worth €7.4 billion for 20242027, including $2 billion in emergency funding slated for disbursement in 2024. 8. The geopolitical determinant lies in Egypt’s control over the Rafah crossing, the sole land access point for GS to the outside world. This control has served as a potent pressure tool on both Gaza’s resistance factions and its populace, contributing to the tightening of the GS siege since 2007. During Operation al-Aqsa Flood, this control exacerbated accusations against Egypt, alleging complicity in the siege, exacerbating suffering and scarcity, while Israeli aggression targets the GS population and resistance. Facets of Egypt’s Official Position on Operation al-Aqsa Flood By observing Egypt’s actions in handling Operation al-Aqsa Flood, the following facets emerge: 1. Politically, Egypt adhered to the resolutions set forth in the joint Arab and Islamic summit held in Riyadh on 11/11/2023, advocating for an end to Israeli aggression against GS and the facilitation of aid entry, although without specified follow-up mechanisms for implementation. 2. Egypt enforced the closure of the Rafah crossing and aligned with Israel’s stance opposing aid flow to GS, despite the crossing being under Egyptian-Palestinian jurisdiction, and the Israeli side has no authority over it. This marked a direct challenge to Egyptian sovereignty, as practical control over the crossing shifted to Israel, granting it sole authority over individual movement and aid entry. Egypt is increasingly apprehensive about the US decision to establish a seaport for Gaza aid, fearing it may diminish Egypt’s influence and control over aid entry via the Rafah crossing. 3. Egyptian authorities pressured Palestinian resistance movements to concede on prisoner exchange deals with Israel, pushing for exclusive Egyptian mediation while attempting to sideline competing mediation efforts, especially the Qatari mediation. Despite Egypt’s desire to monopolize the mediation, Qatar successfully entered the fray, becoming a favored mediator by the United States. 4. Egypt has actively opposed Israeli plans to displace GS residents to Egyptian territory, reinforcing security measures at the Rafah crossing. Diaa Rashwan, the chairperson of the Egyptian State Information Service stated, on 16/2/2024, that such displacement constitutes “a direct threat to Egyptian sovereignty and national security.” 5. During the initial days, Egyptian authorities permitted certain popular events condemning the Israeli war on GS. However, they subsequently enforced stringent measures to curb public protests sympathetic to the Palestinians, leading to a noticeable silence on the Egyptian streets. This repression contrasts with past instances where the Egyptian public reacted to lesser events in Palestinian affairs. Conclusion Operation al-Aqsa Flood’s political and field developments have cast a negative impact on Egypt’s role in the Palestine issue and its regional standing. Accusations have surfaced regarding Egypt’s cooperation with Israel in tightening the GS siege. There’s little indication of a significant shift in Egypt’s stance or political strategies regarding the ongoing war. Politically, Egypt is likely to maintain its adherence to the established official Arab and Islamic stance, over which it holds significant influence in shaping. It’s anticipated that Egypt will persist with its current policies regarding the closure of the Rafah crossing and tying aid entry to Israeli approval. Regarding its engagement with Palestinian resistance groups, particularly with Hamas and the Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Egyptian authorities are expected to maintain a cautious and conservative stance. There’s little anticipation for a positive shift in Egypt’s position regarding permitting pro-resistance public events or condemning Israeli aggression against GS.

Diplomacy
Flags of Japan and DPRK

Japan and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK): current diplomatic gamble

by Jesús Aise Sotolongo

한국어로 읽기 Читать на русском Leer en español Gap In Deutsch lesen اقرأ بالعربية Lire en français Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, recently stated at the Budget Committee of the House of Representatives of the Diet that “…he strongly feels the need to boldly change the current situation of the ties between Japan and the DPRK,” and “…it is very important that he himself establishes (…) relations with the President of the State Affairs of the DPRK, Kim Jong Un, and continues to make efforts through different channels for this purpose”. Immediately, the KCNA agency released, in response to the statement made by the Japanese Prime Minister, a declaration from Kim Yo Jong, the Deputy Director of the Department of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK). The One in charge of the affairs related to the Republic of Korea and the United States – now it seems also with Japan – commented that she found it noteworthy that the Japanese media have assessed Prime Minister Kishida’s words as “a different position from before” regarding the issue of DPRK-Japan bilateral relations. She added that “there is no reason not to evaluate positively” the words of the Japanese Prime Minister if he shows the “true intention” to move forward the relations between the two countries “by courageously freeing themselves from the shackles of the past”. He added that if Japan abandons its “bad habits” such as unjustly violating the self-defense rights of the DPRK and stops turning the already resolved issue of abductions into an obstacle, there is no reason to prevent a rapprochement between the two countries and the day may come when Kishida visits Pyongyang. She noted that, if Japan opts for a new path to improve relations and approaches the North with “respectful and sincere” behavior, the two countries can create a “new future” together. According to Kim Yo Jong, she made her statements not from an official position, but in a “personal capacity”, something that can be questioned, as she appears as the closest collaborator of her brother Kim Jong Un, and the fact that she holds the high responsibility of being the deputy director of the Department of Propaganda and Agitation of the Central Committee of the WPK, formally requires her to uphold party discipline. The most immediate antecedent to Kim Yo Jong’s remarks was when, earlier this year, as western Japan was recovering from an earthquake that killed more than 200 people and damaged tens of thousands of homes in Niigata Prefecture, the Chairman of the State Affairs of the DPRK, Kim Jong Un, sent a message of “sympathy and condolences” to the Japanese Prime Minister, which was seen as unusual and a conciliatory note, given Pyongyang’s demonstrated animosity towards successive Japanese governments and the systematic messages of grievances sent by the DPRK’s official media. Now, a month later, through Kim Yo Jong, the DPRK sends a new signal that it may be willing to improve relations with Japan. However, many observers view with skepticism the supposed show of commitment towards reconciliation with Japan because, over the decades, events raise suspicious about whether their pronouncements were sincere or not. For well-known historical reasons, the DPRK-Japan relations have never been healthy. Especially, in the last two decades when they have been distinguished by their progressive worsening. Successive administrations, especially those of Shinzo Abe and Yoshihide Suga, have taken the nuclear threat as a pretext for their militaristic ambitions, something that has severely displeased the leadership in Pyongyang. Due to what the North Koreans call “infamous submission” to the US, expressions of disdain from high-ranking officials towards Tokyo are regular occurrences. The most controversial issue revolves around the matter of the abducted Japanese. Although in 2002, coinciding with the first visit to Pyongyang of then-Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, the DPRK and Japan signed a historic agreement committing an early normalization of bilateral relations and leading to the return of five of the abducted Japanese, Tokyo holds Pyongyang responsible for the abduction of 17 Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s, with 12 of them still believed to be in the DPRK. However, Pyongyang admits to having abducted only 13 individuals, claiming to have returned five and stating that the remaining eight had died. What is most unnerving in the eventual Japan-North Korea ties is that Pyongyang assumes the abductee issue as a “settle issue” and Tokyo keeps it as a priority on its political-diplomatic agenda. To date, Japan continues to present the abductees as a premise for talks at any level, while the DPRK considers it as already solved and furthermore, the issue of nuclear weapons and missiles has nothing to do with the improvements of bilateral ties, as Pyongyang considers it as its legitimate self-defense. Japan finds it extremely difficult to accept such conditions. The DPRK’s increasingly sophisticated missiles are constantly being projected into the Sea of Japan and have even flown over Japanese territory. Japan also perceives the possibility that, like South Korea, the DPRK will carry out preventive nuclear strike when it sees signs of real and imminent risk. And, as far as the abduction issue is concerned, all indicates that Japan is not ready to accept that it has been resolved. It is a combination of social forces, forming a critical mass that puts pressure on the Japanese government to act in favor of finding a plausible solution to the abduction issue. In this regard, the Japanese government’s chief spokesman, Yoshimasa Hayashi, stated at a press conference that Japan remains unchanged and “…intends to comprehensively resolve outstanding issues, such as nuclear energy, missiles and abductions”. It is well known that the Japanese Foreign Ministry has repeatedly appealed to its counterparts in friendly countries to the DPRK to make efforts to lead to talks with Pyongyang authorities. It is documented that these efforts have been unsuccessful due to their reluctant stance towards Tokyo. Why is the DPRK rushing to positively assimilate Prime Minister Kishida’s words now? In a previous article, we discussed how at the January 15th, 2024 session of the 14th Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Chairman Kim Jong Un made a decision to sever all ties with the Republic of Korea (ROK), which he called as the “number one hostile country” and indicated to constitutionally endorse a better definition of the border and physically destroy all inter-Korean symbols. We saw that the main thing was to “erase” from the Constitution what he referred to as “inherited concepts” that classify South Koreans as compatriots and likewise, the term unification, removing phrases he assessed as “deceptive” such as “3,000 miles of golden water, rivers and mountains” and “80 million Koreans”, arguing that “…it is correct to specify in the corresponding article [of the Constitution] that the Republic of Korea is firmly considered as the number one hostile country and immutable main enemy”. The above-mentioned contrast with the position that presumably highlights the expectation of an eventual improvement in relations with Tokyo, which has the same status as a major ally of Washington in East Asia, as does Seoul, and which together form a harmonious triangular anti-DPRK alliance. It is notorious that a priority of the DPRK, reinforced in recent times, has always been to fracture the US-ROK-Japan axis. It is convenient to recapitulate that, under the Moon Jae-in and Donald Trump administrations, when Pyongyang – Seoul and Pyongyang – Washington relations exhibited relative understanding and détente, the DPRK furiously attacked the Abe administration, with the same purpose of breaking the alliance. Pyongyang may find it worthwhile to engage with Tokyo under the assumption of forcing open some cracks in the recently strengthened trilateral cooperation between the United States, Japan, and the Republic of Korea. This is because under conservative President Yoon Suk Yeol, South Korea has sought, with the support of the Biden Administration, closer relations, and more stable ties with Japan, including defense and intelligence information exchange, and to a significant extent, has achieved it. However, the Seoul-Tokyo-US convergence suffers from fragility, which is reflected in the appreciable differences over the shared history between South Korea and Japan, and the ongoing disputes with the former colonial ruler over comfort women and forced laborers. In addition, there is US political volatility; in both Seoul and Tokyo there are uncertainties about whether Washington would directly involve itself in a conflagration involving either of them with the DPRK, as well as whether Washington would accommodate South Korea’s nuclear aspirations and unreservedly support Japan’s abandonment of the status of its Armed Forces as self-defense forces. Still, it can be argued that, as risk management and empathy sustainer, Kishida will keep Seoul and Washington abreast of his dealings with Pyongyang. In March, he will visit Seoul and in April, Washington; these would be important indicators of alignment between the trio. Kishida will seek the blessing of the Yoon and Biden administrations, anticipating that Kim Jong Un will move toward a summit that Kishida has so often called for. Washington has moved forward in supporting Japan’s attempts to engage with the DPRK. The ROK and Japan are in close communication on any future Tokyo-Pyongyang dialogue. Meanwhile, South Korea says that any contact between Japan and the DPRK should be conducted in a manner that helps promote peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. Conclusions We are in the presence of a new diplomatic gamble by the DPRK that illustrates the level of specialization it has reached in managing its complicated relations with the main US allies in East Asia, who, in turn, are perceived as systematically confrontational countries. A straightforward resolution of the outstanding issues for discussion (nuclear weapons, missiles, and abductions) between Kim Jong Un and Fumio Kishida is not to be expected. These are issues on which the DPRK and Japan have diametrically different positions and directly concern the comprehensive strategic security of both countries, including the recurring abduction issue, which is associated with the political gain of any Japanese government. A meeting at the Japan-North Korea summit would be one of the few pleasant surprises to be received in the context of the vicious circle of conflict associated with the DPRK. It would be attractive to see a determined understanding between Pyongyang and Tokyo. It may be foreseeable that a Kim Jong Un - Fumio Kishida meeting will take place, but the past and present history negates any prospect of success. For this to happen, both sides will have to make principled concessions that, if made, will have combined counterproductive political effects. Bibliographic references KCNA. Kim Yo Jong publica declaración con el tema de relaciones Corea-Japón. Disponible en: http://www.kcna.kp/es/article/q/cba25051838d476c95acd451a45ae8a8.kcmsf KBS WORLD Prensa japonesa: Kim Yo Jong busca desestabilizar alianza Seúl. Washington-Tokio. Disponible en: https://world.kbs.co.kr/service/news_view.htm?lang=s&id=In&Seq_Code=88473 Leonardo Estandarte. Corea del Norte-Japón: Kim Yo-jong plantea la hipótesis de la visita de Kishida a Pyongyang. Disponible en: https://www.agenzianova.com/es/news/Corea-del-Norte-Jap%C3%B3n-Kim-Yo-Jong-plantea-la-hip%C3%B3tesis-de-la-visita-de-Kishida-a-Pyongyang/ Kim Yo Jong dice que Corea del Norte está abierta a mejorar sus lazos con Japón. Disponible en: https://reporteasia.com/relaciones-diplomaticas/2024/02/15/kim-yo-jong-corea-del-norte-mejorar-lazos-japon/ Japón califica de inaceptable que Corea del Norte afirme que la cuestión de los secuestros está resuelta- Disponible en: https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/es/news/20240216_15/ Jesse Johnson. North Korea-Japan summit push gains steam after remarks by Kim´s sister. Disponible en: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2024/02/16/japan/politics/japan-north-korea-summit-push/ Mitch Shin. Will Kim Jong Un Meet with Japan´s Prime Minister Kishida? Disponible en: https://thediplomat.com/2024/02/will-kim-jong-un-meet-with-japans-prime-minister-kishida/

Diplomacy
Amman, Jordan - October 18, 2023 : Arab unity in the Al-Aqsa flood war (flag of Jordan and Palestine) Demonstrations of the Jordanian people in solidarity with Gaza and the Palestinian people

Political Insights (5): Determinants of the Jordanian Stance on Operation al-Aqsa Flood

by Atef al-Joulani

Jordan’s official stance on Operation al-Aqsa Flood faced challenges in maintaining a balanced position, despite strong and unprecedented engagement from the Jordanian public. The initial official stance, which seemed relatively strong and clear, diminished later, revealing contradictions between political declarations and practical measures on the ground. This has raised questions about the factors influencing Jordan’s position on the confrontation. First: Determinants of the Official Stance The official Jordanian stance on Operation al-Aqsa Flood was shaped by various factors: 1. Concerns regarding national security intensified due to the hostile attitudes of extreme right-wing Zionist groups towards Jordan, along with fears of forced displacement in the West Bank (WB) amidst the arming of tens of thousands of settlers and their persistent efforts to compel Palestinians to relocate to Jordan. Furthermore, concerns emerged regarding security threats to the kingdom’s northern and eastern borders amidst increased attempts to breach them due to escalation in Gaza Strip (GS). On 28/1/2024, a drone attack targeted US forces stationed near the Syrian border in Jordan, killing three soldiers and wounding about 35 others. 2. Geographic and demographic factors, coupled with strong public engagement with Operation al-Aqsa Flood, persistently fueled Jordanian protests against Israeli aggression and in support of resistance since October 7th. The protests have spanned the entire geographical and societal spectrum in Jordan. 3. The provisions of the Wadi Araba Treaty between Jordan and Israel, including political, economic restrictions, and normalization commitments between the parties. 4. The strategic relationship between Jordan and the US, which fully sided with Israel and provided it with political, military and financial cover to continue its aggression on GS. 5. Jordan’s tepid ties with Hamas suffered a setback after Operation al-Aqsa Flood, which coincided with a noticeable decline in relations, prompted by the arrest of several Hamas members for attempting to smuggle weapons into WB. 6. Jordan’s political stance within the Arab and international sphere, which opposes Hamas and “political Islam” movements. 7. Jordan’s political choices in the Palestinian arena, which support the political settlement, negotiations and the two-state solution, the efforts to de-escalate and impose calm in WB, enhancing the PA status within the Palestinian society, and preventing its collapse or decline in favor of other parties. 8. The official side voiced concerns about the impact of Operation al-Aqsa Flood on Jordanian public sentiment and electoral trends, fearing its exploitation by the Islamic movement during the critical upcoming parliamentary elections later this year (2024). Second: The Various Facets of the Jordanian Position On the political front, Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi was the first to indicate in the early days of the confrontation that “Hamas is an idea, and the idea does not end.” He emphasized that discussing a post-Gaza phase is a leap in the air, clarifying that Hamas did not create the conflict but rather the conflict created Hamas. Jordan was quick to describe Israeli military operations in GS as aggression and heinous war crimes, with positions issued by the King, Queen, Crown Prince and Jordanian Prime Minister condemning the aggression, calling for its cessation, and declaring solidarity with the Palestinian people. On the practical front, Jordan canceled the Quad Summit scheduled in Amman with the US President on 18/10/2023, in protest against the Israeli massacre at the Baptist Hospital in GS. Jordan also froze the energy-for-water agreement with Israel. On 1/11/2023, Jordan recalled its ambassador from Israel and conducted multiple air drops to support its field hospital in GS, while establishing a second field hospital in Khan Younis. Yet, the Jordanian public deemed these official actions insufficient, demanding the cancellation of the Wadi Araba treaty and the gas agreement with Israel, along with halting the water-for-electricity deal, closing foreign military bases in Jordan, supporting Palestinian resistance and engaging with its factions. The Jordanian official stance during Operation al-Aqsa Flood can be summarized as follows: 1. Condemnation of Israeli aggression on GS and urging an end to war crimes. 2. Implementation of measures falling short of public demands, amidst strong interaction by the Jordanian public during the confrontation. 3. Permitting limited popular activities, restricting access to borders with the occupied Palestinian territories, opposing open sit-ins and arresting activists participating in some events. 4. Allowing Jordanian territory for Gulf-to-Israel truck transit, within the context of a land bridge inaugurated to bypass Houthi restrictions in the Bab al-Mandab Strait for ships bound to Israel. Conclusion Jordan’s official response to Operation al-Aqsa Flood reveals significant confusion in aligning its regional and international stance, political choices and commitments with addressing the demands of the Jordanian public. Jordan’s participation in the land bridge for goods transit to Israel has damaged its credibility and provoked public outrage. This revelation coincided with Israel’s intensified blockade on GS, coupled with increased measures to prevent the entry of humanitarian aid, as part of the Israeli policy to starve the population and incite popular resentment against the resistance. Given recent practical behavior and relative retreat in stance and rhetoric, ongoing confusion in Jordan’s official position is expected in the coming period, with increased engagement in Arab and international arrangements regarding Gaza’s post-war future. Regarding relations with Palestinian factions, Jordan’s official side is expected to maintain its preference for engaging solely with the Palestinian Authority, aiming to bolster its position in the Palestinian arena, without showing openness to resistance movements in the foreseeable future.