All of you AUCUSIT: by creating military quasi-structures, NATO partners are digging a hole for themselves
The Kremlin is closely monitoring the activities of AUKUS, believes that such alliances lead to the formation of narrow "clashes."
This is the opinion of the press secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov, answering the question of how the Kremlin assesses the information that Japan received an invitation to the new alliance, the correspondent of The Moscow Post reports.
Back in October 2021, when the creation of the AUKUS bloc was only announced, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the "top three" of undermining regional stability. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced the devastating impact of the new alliance and the "square" security dialogue (QUAD) on the Asia-Pacific region.
Not to say that the ring of unfriendly countries around Russia is shrinking. Apart from Ukraine, there is not much fundamentally new geographically. But there are definitely new spikes in the "containment necklace." In the West, these are Sweden and Finland, who decided to put themselves at risk with their thoughts about joining NATO. In the East - Japan, which is pulled in AUKUS. If Japan decides, the bloc will be called JAUKUS.
Interbreeder may backfire
The AUKUS partnership was first announced last September by US President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Canberra agreed to construct the nuclear submarines (NS) with use of technologies of the USA and Great Britain. To do this, Australia tore up a multi-billion dollar defense contract concluded with France for the construction of diesel-electric submarines.
Time has passed, and this new military structure expects Japan to rely on its technology in its ranks. "Troika" probes the mood of the Japanese. "External" participants, like the United States and the United Kingdom, are located far from the region, which is destined to be the point of application of the "efforts" of AUKUS. Australia are closer, but little depends on it. But China, in respect of which all this is started, is very close and very important for Japan both economically and politically.
Eastern NATO will inevitably hurt Russia's interests. Especially when you consider the proposed technical content of the alliance. The United States, Great Britain and Australia recently announced the start of joint development of hypersonic weapons, as well as strengthening interaction in the cyber sphere, in electronic warfare.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping during talks in Beijing on February 4 expressed concern about the formation of this partnership. China, in particular, stated that the creation of AUKUS would aggravate the arms race, violate the provisions of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
Press Secretary of the President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Peskov, even before his wording about "narrow clashes," said that "we need to understand the details of this alliance." Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova expressed hope that Australia will continue to comply with its obligations as a non-nuclear country. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was more categorical, recalled that since AUKUS will allow Australia to acquire nuclear submarines, the block will provide it with a place in the top five countries with this type of weapons.
Understand the details, and then?
"We are concerned in particular about statements made earlier this year in London about the prospects for the proliferation of their nuclear potential," said Sergei Ryabkov, speaking in October 2021 at the Geneva Center for Security Policy. The actions of Washington, London and Canberra will negatively affect the entire system of strategic stability, as well as at the negotiations between the Russian Federation and the United States in this area, many other experts note.
Since the announcement of plans to form AUKUS, it has become clear that this is a non-standard approach to changing the balance of strategic forces in the Western Pacific in favor of the collective West. The first component of this plan is multi-purpose nuclear submarines with bases in Australia. The second "chip" is what they will be equipped with when they appear. So far, we are talking about Tomahawk cruise missiles.
Troika announced that it would cooperate in the development of hypersonic missiles, the alliance members agreed on the development of electronic warfare equipment. It was here that the eyes of Washington and London settled on Japan. "We reaffirmed our commitment to AUKUS and the free and open Indo-Pacific," the three participating countries said in a statement. Partners will exchange military technologies, "contribute to the deeper integration of science, technology, industrial bases and supply chains related to security and defense."
The Sankei newspaper reported that the Anglo-Saxons are interested in connecting Tokyo's technological capabilities. Proposals to join AUKUS, the newspaper claims, come from all three member countries of this structure. Obviously, this takes into account the tensions that have developed in Japan's relations with China, the growth of nationalist, even militaristic sentiments in its political elite.
It is clear that the purpose of these proposals is to increase the potential for collective deterrence of China. The Japanese government has supporters of joining AUKUS who are convinced that this structure will help "oppose China," guarantees freedom of navigation in the South China Sea area, which Beijing considers a zone of its security priorities.
According to the official version, the tripartite agreement assumes that Australia will "build" eight nuclear submarines using American and British technology, the first of which will be launched in 2036. But there is an opinion that before that, APLs of a similar class can be "rented" from senior allies.
Last year, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in an interview with CBS that his government, concluding an agreement with Washington and London, understood that Beijing could perceive the nuclear submarine and missile weapons as a threat to its security. The prime minister then explained: "Australia has every right to make decisions in its sovereign interests to ensure defense capability."
The question is, at what cost? Maybe Australia intends to play the "Polish card," now in Asia? Amid the escalation of tensions in relations between the West with the Russian Federation and the PRC, Prime Minister Fumio Kisida can also "score points" due to the unique position of Japan in relation to China and Russia, but is it worth it?
To deny does not mean not to prepare
The next day, during a press conference in Tokyo, Japanese Cabinet Secretary General Hirokazu Matsuno denied the Sankei newspaper. "It's not true," he said. But the Japanese never agree to anything in a hurry. The solution requires time and careful questioning of all stakeholders.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki also denied that the Japanese government did not receive offers to join the AUKUS partnership. She recalled that the Japanese authorities also denied this information. According to her, the troika countries forming the partnership are focused on "developing a trilateral program in the field of advanced military technologies." But JAUKUS is not in their plans.
As the only Asian G7 country, Japan plays the role of a regional ombudsman in terms of implementing the West's agenda in the Asia-Pacific region. Tokyo has two tasks. First, convince Indonesia, which hosts this year's Group of 20 meeting, not to invite Russia to the summit in November. Secondly, to agree on about the same with Thailand, which this year hosts a meeting of the leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).
According to Nikkei, Fumio Kisida is considering traveling to Indonesia and other Southeast Asian countries in order to discuss with the leaders of these countries the sanctions imposed by the West against Russia, narrow the gap between the region, the United States and Europe on relations with China. So far, Asian countries are reluctant to react to the aggressive behavior of the West towards Moscow. So far, only Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore have joined the sanctions.
Members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have always sought to find a political balance between the United States and Japan, on the one hand, China and Russia - on the other. Kishida hopes to use Japan's position as the only Asian member of the G7 to swap that balance. The Japanese premier will travel the region during the Golden Week festival from late April to early May. It will be his first long trip since he became prime minister in October 2021.
Washington is listening and performing!
The Japanese leader will also have to probe the sentiments of the leaders of Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand before Biden's first visit to Japan and Asian countries.
Japan itself, building its foreign policy line in accordance with the course of the United States and Great Britain, is not inclined to abandon Russia's role in ensuring Japanese energy security. Japan's understanding of this priority is "different from American and British understanding," writes former banker and economist Junichi Yadova in the weekly Shūkan Gendai.
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, as well as Itochu Corporation, Marubeni participate in the Sakhalin-1 project, and Mitsubishi and Mitsui in Sakhalin-2. ExxonMobil withdrew from the Sakhalin-1 project, Shell - from the Sakhalin-2 project, but for Japan this step will cost about $20 billion, will also affect the price of electricity. True, the government announced a phasing out of imports of Russian coal. The deficit will have to be closed at the expense of other manufacturers, including Indonesia.
In Japanese politics, attempts to please Anglo-Saxon partners in isolating Russia and annoying China are bizarrely combined with understanding their vital interests. There is a lot in common with the position of bureaucratic Tokyo with the position of Brussels under the leadership of Von der Leinen and Borrell. The difference is that the government is directly accountable to the Japanese voter. And the business community of Japan rather resembles Germany, but "puts pressure" on business not Brussels and the United States, but Tokyo.
Business or security?
Just as in Europe, in Japan, ideology and political intransigence are laid on the scales of the future, economic well-being on the other side. For example, Japan's exports to China in the "dock" 2019 amounted to almost $135 billion, imports exceeded $169 billion. Investments by Japanese companies in China in 2020-21 reached $30 billion out of $144 billion in foreign direct investment.
From a security point of view, Japan, like Europe, depends on the United States. With the only difference that in Europe the main goal of Washington is Moscow, and in Asia - Beijing. The irony is that China and Russia for Japan are neighbors in the Northeast Asian region. This is defined by geography and the "pulling up" of AUKUS to the north of the region, cannot be a reasonable step.
Moreover, of all the US allies, Japan leads in the number of foreign bases on its territory. The Japanese self-defense forces are superior in capabilities to NATO countries, not counting the United States and nuclear Britain.
This is where the main obstacle lies for Tokyo. The Union of Three violates the established attitude towards nuclear weapons, said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian. The diplomat noted that as a result of the formation of a new union, the procedure for non-proliferation of nuclear weapons will be violated. Since the Cold War, Lijian stressed, Washington's approaches to the implementation of foreign policy goals have not changed, everything is done only from a position of strength.
The new military-political association AUKUS questions China's policy on the use of nuclear weapons, said former Chinese diplomat Sha Zukang, who served as UN Deputy Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs.
According to the diplomat, the union concluded between the United States, Great Britain and Australia forces Beijing to revise its rules for the use of nuclear weapons. Military doctrine allows China to use nuclear forces only in response to an enemy attack. The new union could force Beijing to revise this rule.
So we talked! One thing is clear, Japan, like Finland, has something to lose. Maybe it's worth reminding them of this more often?