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Militarization of Indian Ocean and its Implications on Pakistan

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Whoever controls the Indian Ocean, dominates the Asia”-Alfred Thayer Mahan

Indian Ocean is the third largest ocean of the world. It is considered as hub of globalization as it provides connectivity between east and west. Two-Third of the world trade occurred through this ocean so it is having a tremendous strategic location which is significant for emerging power. [1]Indian Ocean also called as “Ratnakara(the mine of gems) in sansikrit. The most crucial trade route is Malacca straitin the ocean and secondly it provide passage to oil from Persian gulf to rest of the world. The economic interest and threatening security environment engaged different regional and extra regional players militarily.[2]

Oxford Dictionary stated Militarization as “preparation for an immediate combat situation or a violent conflict by nations or arms groups”. [3]It can be of various forms like deployment of troops, Building up Naval capabilities, Weapons of Mass destruction. In Indian Ocean Militarization done by many foreign countries and also other countries who are sharing border with Indian Ocean. As different states have stakes and interests. The protagonist countries are; India, China, Pakistan and USA respectively.

Major Players in Indian Ocean

India is also a fastest growing economy. It is located in the center of Indian Ocean and it’s coastline along ocean is 75, 00. This region is top priority of India as for her it is very significant as 90% of trade occurred through the ocean and it also imports LNG, 45% coming through sea. it is also dependent on resources of ocean.[4]India suspects that china is surrounding her by following her policy string of pearls. For increasing involvement of china, India has looked upon USA for making alliance or to contain china in Indian Ocean.[5] In opening of Malacca strait there are two islands; Nicobar and Andaman respectively over there they have naval presence in case of any conflict India can tackle china.

USA is another actor which is involved in ocean and playing cards, USA has its base in Diego Garcia so that in case of any conflict it can deploy its naval forces quickly. As USA is dependent on Middle East for oil so openness of passage is very crucial So second involvement is to protect its own interest that in case of any conflict Iran may block the strait of Hormuz in this case USA naval fleet will be able to prevent Iran to do so. Thirdly small Nations such as Australia having a lesser power so it ally with USA for its protection and this could only possible if USA stay over there’s also gives this justification.[6]

China is rising economically and it’s second great power after USA. It is also dependent on Indian Ocean in term of oil trade, Raw material and it’s sea lane route passing through very critical area of Indian Ocean; Malacca Strait as near to it there is presence of Indian navy so by developing it’s navy she can protect her resources. India’s growing economy and china’s growing global influence have highlight the strategic standing of ocean. China wants its regional maritime presence. Right now focusing on open sea and offshore defense[7].

In Context of Pakistan CPEC has great importance. India fears that the OBOR, undergirded by CPEC, could hand over it to the margins of both land and maritime Asia. By choosing for the Gwadar Port and CPEC, Pakistan has chosen to become a regional economic pivot and a major maritime power. In this regard, it has three fundamental and instantaneous responsibilities: to complete CPEC projects on time and take them to the next higher stage, to build national agreement behind them, and to eliminate terrorism. Pakistan is successfully moving in all these directions. Second, Pakistan will have larger naval presence in IOR; and that demands, for general maritime security, a stronger Pakistan Navy for protection of the sea lanes carrying Pakistan’s as well as international merchandize. This task would require more naval assets and related infrastructure. While China would be there to safeguard its own interests in the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean, Pakistan, which up to now has been largely oriented as a land and air power, would have to build its conventional and strategic naval muscle proportionately Indian Ocean is transforming because of three reasons; China’s rise as an emerging economy and its inauguration of maritime Silk Road; one belt one road (OBOR) and secondly rebalancing of USA pivot to Asia and thirdly emerging economies which are littoral to Indian Ocean. In Years ahead there would be rapid economic activities and would instigate rapid militarization.[8]

Implications on Pakistan

Challenges to Pakistan are originating because of power projection of different states in Indian Ocean. Side by side terrorism, piracy and environmental concerns are further adding to the scenario. OBOR also need proper security mechanism. India-USA strategic partnership is also a high stake for USA as this will help India to build up nuclear capabilities; air craft carrier technology, drones, marine helicopters and anti-submarine gear respectively. Which will in turn instigate risky situation for Pakistan and third thing is India is making partnership with other states to like Iran and other Gulf states to tackle the Pakistan and China partnership.[9]

China is continuously building its naval capabilities. China’s maritime power named, Far sea defense, aimed to achieve two objectives; firstly to secure its maritime security and secondly to protect its interest in term of economics in Indian Ocean in Indian Ocean and West Africa. As china is expanding its economic interest so presence of navy will protect transportation routes and will help to secure sea lanes and to achieve china need to have comprehensive naval capabilities. Chinese building up of naval capabilities will ultimately engage USA as well which will put catastrophic effect in the region.[10]

Moreover, militarization is also posing non -traditional security threats such as piracy, terrorism and environmental issues as well and now after the partnership of China and Pakistan in Indian Ocean, it is dire need to overcome these challenges as this is good for both to secure their interests.[11]

India has also deployed its navy in the ocean to secure its own interest. As being the major shareholder in Indian Ocean trade and commerce activities in esteem of imported crude oil, raw materials, and consumer goods, the country’s exports. It has become essential for India to ensure the security of SLOCs from the Persian Gulf, Europe, and East Asia. The security of these vigorous shipping lanes is also linked with India’s dependence on the security of the Indian Ocean, combined with its need to monitor and, if necessary, patterned the naval activity of other regional powers. The Indian Navy’s presence has moved to 40 ships and submarines, two nuclear submarines, two aircraft carriers. This would go up to have a 165-ship fleet by 2022 ranging from surface combatants, submarines to three aircraft carrier groups with a total of 400 MiG-29K aircraft and helicopters. India’s defense budget is more than Pakistan. Pakistan has also naval presence in the Indian Ocean but up till now India is leading and Pakistan is building its capabilities.

Summary of forces

Cordesman,Abdullah Touken, “The Indian Ocean Region: A Strategic Net Assessment”, Center for Strategic and International Studies,july,2017

This bar chart showing that Pakistan’s forces are far behind from India.Pakistan is also struggling for building capabilities in term of maritime security.Aman Exercise first time happened in 2007 and at that time 28 countries contributed but now Multinational Aman(Together for peace) Exercise 2017 happaened in arbian sea in which navies of 35 states joined the exercise and this representation was shown with boarded helicopters,explosive ordnance diposal,special operation forces and maritime observers. PLA Navy conducting major naval manoeuvres with Pakistan Navy in the North Arabian Sea in a exhibition of resolve to guard multibillion dollar innovativeness CPEC.Pakkistan  Navy has elevated a Special naval Task Force to protect and defense the Gwadar port. The newly-instituted special Task Force will include ships, fast attack craft, drones and surveillance possessions to guard the port as well as contiguous sea.[12]

India’s blue Navy is putting great implication on Pakistan.Pakistan is uptill now lag behind naval capabilities. Pakistan newly tested a 700 km land-sea version of cruise missile, Babur. Not too long ago, India test fired submarine launched Intermediate Range Ballistic missile, K-4. On December 26 last, India tested Agni-V, Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). With a strike range of over 5,000 km, Agni V can reach southern parts of China. To ensure satisfactory stability, Pakistan tested its version of submarine launched cruise missile, Babur III early this January.Pakistan has also signed deal with China (PLA Navy) and according to this deal Pakistan will buy Hangor class of submarine also negotiationg on corvettes to further extend the strategic partnership.it can create balance in indian cocean.Pakistan has to build its conventional and navy muscles correspondingly.As it is necessary for pakistan to tackle India and alone Pakistan can’t do that.[13]

Modernization Plans of Pakistan in Indian Ocean

Indian Ocean is though hub of globalization but side by side it’s posing a threat to Pakistan’s national security. To secure its survival Pakistan is developing new capabilities as according to realist perspective 3s (statism, survival, security) are very crucial for a state.Inspite of significant geopolitical position, Pakistan has not paid attention to its own country and this lack of attention has put her far behind from India but now the current nuclearization of Indian Ocean by many other countries has  opened the eyes of Pakistan and also due to project of CPEC, Pakistan is now focusing on its navy to tackle any difficult situation in Indian Ocean. As Pakistan is not economically well off so that’s why she will focus on upgradation of existing arsenals rather to make new one.

Pakistan is building up its arsenal with the help of China, Russia and Turkey. Chinese are providing support in building of not only arsenals but side by side giving training to Pakistani technicians. China is not only supporting Pakistan economically but also building human resource. Russia will supply F-22 frigates with enhanced capability of sensors and possibly will also include SAM, surface to air missile. Pakistan has also hired second fast attack craft missile (FACM) named PNS HIMMAT and this is under the program of AZMAT fast attack craft missile which was initiated in 2013 with the collaboration of China and now Pakistan has made its indigenous second FACM and first one was PNS DEHSHAT.Though it is a small vessel but still has capability to hit surface ships. Fast attack craft is also equipped with other arsenals like guns and other electronic combat equipment and it has fast speed but it can be used in operation beyond 100-150 nautical miles from its respective coast. No doubt it’s an appreciated accumulation in the operational capability of Pakistan .But disadvantage is its small size and it can’t be operated in area which is far from its range. But FAC’s capability can be improved by investing in supersonic anti-ship missile ASHM and ASHM which is longer in range which can provide long range surveillance and this can effectually extend the range of fast air craft FAC.[14]

Gwadar port has brought Pakistan and China more closer and now Pakistan is enhancing its naval assets with the collaboration of China. Pakistan has finalized the agreement over submarines with China and China will deliver eight submarines; S20 and SSK respectively. Among eight submarines, four of them will be constructed in Pakistanand rest of four will be constructed in China. Pakistan has also done agreement with Turkey in upgradations of its naval assets; in term of undersea combat competences. In June, agreement between Pakistan and Turkey over 3 Agosta 90B-class (aka Khalid-class) which is “diesel-electric attack submarines” furnished with air-independent impulsion schemes.Anti-ship warfare capability will further enhance the chance to prevent the naval blockade and these steps like upgradation of existing arsenals, training programs is a clear message that Pakistan is ready to counter existential threats in Indian Ocean.[15]

Modernizaton plans of India in Indian Ocean

Chinese presence and its partnership with Pakistan have alarmed India and she is also developing and heavily investing in naval assets to tackle its major rivals; Pakistan and China respectively. India is focusing on its indigenous capabilities to modernize its weapons and in term of extension of its naval forces. Since 2014 India has different type of vessels which are 41 in number. These includes; corvettes, frigates, aircraft carriers, nuclear and conventional powered submarines and these are still under construction[16]. Side by side India is also investing in Anti-submarine shipscapabilities like “Kamorta-class corvette”. Long range surveillance maritime aircraft and ships which include “Saryu-class petrol vessel “and UAV’s (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) like “IAI-Heron-1”but still India is lagging behind in term of submarine armada which has put very bad impact on its other naval capabilities[17]

India is also building aircraft carrier but still under development.one aircraft is INS Vishal which is 65,000 in weightage and will be able to house almost 55 aircrafts and aircrafts will be launched by a system (CATOBAR) “catapult assisted take-off but arrested recovery”. This system will help aircraft in launch from carrier and aircraft will able to carry heavier armaments payload and this aircraft carrier is expected to be commissioned in Indian navy in 2030s.it will be driven by nuclear apparatus. But India has no experience in term of nuclear impulsion in surface vessel so there is chance that India may cooperate with US and France in term of this aspect[18]. Since 2012 India has only one nuclear driven submarine which she has taken from Russia on contract[19]

India is also building nuclear city where she is developing both nuclear and conventional weapons and located in South India.She is also developing thermonuclear weapons and this will disturb the balance of whole region.Already there is conventional assymetry between India and Pakistan but this will instigate full fledge arms race in the region[20].It is commonly said that she is developing its nuclear city but still there is no credible information about it, whether she is developing or not.

Second strike capability of Pakistan

Pakistan’s full spectrum deterrence will not be complete without a triad vis-a-vis India, including a symmetric and credible naval component. The stronger a country’s economy, the stronger security cover it would need to protect and sustain it. Pakistan has a narrow window to build its naval capabilities. The opportunity will shrink if  this task belongs to the distant future and the precipitation of spying networks around Pakistan’s coastline and the mainland would thicken more vigilance and cooperation with friendly countries will be required to combat this threat.[21]

Second strike capability is traditionally acquired by having submarine-launched ballistic/cruise missiles. They serve as credible deterrence tanks to their survivibility and give a great boost to the defence of a state.Both states are working on second strike capability.First India tested SLBM (Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile) K-4 and K-15.India is trying to test its missiles and when tests will successful India will deploy missile on its nuclear powered submarine.Pakistan tested its second strike capbility after India by launching first ever nuclear capable submarine launched cruise missile Babur-III. In near future India has 2 nuclear submarines and this missile only launched through this submarines rest of the submarines are not capable whereas in term of pakistan ,have all conventional submarines and Babur-III launched from any of these without any modification.Pakistan doesn’t have nuclear powered submarine.while coming to range Indian missile has wide range as compare to pakistan’s missile.From both sides this project will take 10-15 years.[22]

Future scenarios of Naval Upgradation in Pakistan

Pakistan has signed agreement with Germany to buy ATR-72 which is basically plane spotter and there are chances that pakistan navy convert it into Anti-ship warfare and this will allow it to proficient of Anti-ship wrafare plateform.In coming years Pakistan will upgrade it with airborne surviellance radar.[23]Pakistan has also inaugurated its Pakistan Airbase(PAF) in Bholari which is situated in Karachi.It is operational now and this base will play a supportive role both for land and sea.Though Pakistan is lagging behind India but Pakistan still able to tackle India.This will deliver aerial defese to our land and side by side will also protect China-Pakistan economic corridor(CPEC) project[24]In future ahead cooperation of China and Pakistan will help to modernize Pakistan’s naval assets.

Conclusion

Introduction of nukes in Indian ocean has raised new multi challenges for Pakistan. Despite of Pakistan wish to keep waters clean from nuclear weapons, India has taken first step to furthur complicate the strategic enviroment of South Asia. Though Pakistan is in the process of development of possible counters, however over all such developments will initiate a cold war type competion between India and Pakistan thus creating arms race. Though idea of sea based ‘’assured second strike’’ capability may serve as major deterrent factor to avoid all out conflict but development of other conventional naval build up might increase friction in the context of Arabian Sea – Indian ocean security paradigm.Pakistan and India are traditional rivals. They have apprehensions from each other which are deep rooted. The Indian Ocean is the most significant and relevant water body. It has political, economic, security and energy imperatives for whole world. It is the global trade route encompassing oil and energy trade which is the driving force of whole world’s industry. The Indian Ocean is the theatre of new game for global powers. There are various rivals in competition for influence.Indian designs are to become a global power with active role in every sphere. It has a first priority to compete Chinese influence. Pakistan has a main security threat from India. Its foreign policy has long been hostage to this threat. The rivalry, which reached to the nuclearization of both states may reach Indian Ocean as Pakistan has always been in quest of balancing the power as against India.Pakistan needs robust efforts to achieve security in Indian Ocean to safeguard its interests.


[1]Pejsova,Eva, “Scrambling for the Indian Ocean”, European union institute of strategic studies,2016

[2]“Strategic importance of Indian Ocean”,Himfact,2015,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=997KUreZIA

[3]“Militarization in the Indian Ocean Region” ,Indian Defense Forum,2015

[4]Jaishankar,Dhruva, “Indian Ocean Region: A pivot for India’s growth”, Brookings institution India center,2016

[5]“Militarization in the Indian Ocean”, Indian Defense Forum,2015

[6]Ibid.

[7]Albert, Eleanor, “competition in the Indian Ocean”, council on foreign affairs,2016

[8] Masood khan,Sardar, “Indian Ocean Region: Strategies and challenges”, Pakistan observer,2016

[9]“Emerging Challenges in Indian ocean pose serious threat to Pakistan’s security interest”, Pakistan today,Islamabd,2017

[10]Qamar Fatima,Asmajamshed, “The political and Economic significance of Indian Ocean: An analysis, A research journal of South Asian Studies,2015

[11]“Indian Ocean maritime security challenges: Is Pakistan ready”,Times of Islamabad, 2017

[12]Muhammad Azam Khan, “Aman 17 and Balance of power in Indian ocean”, The News,2017

[13]Ibid.

[14]Usman Ansari, “Pakistan Seeks To Energize Naval Modernization”, Defense News, 2015

[15]Bilal khan, “The Pakistan Navy 2016 and beyond”, QUWA (Defense News and Analysis group)

[16]“Why India’s ‘Blue Water’ Ambitions Matter”. Archived from the original on 2014-11-23.

[17]“India’s Growing Unmanned Naval Fleet“. Archived from the original on 2014-10-30.

[18]Franz-Stefan Gady, “Confirmed: India’s Next Aircraft Carrier Will Be Nuclear”, 2016.

[19] VIVEK BHARDWAJ, “TOP 10 Most Advanced Upcoming Projects,Future,Indian Navy”, 2015.

[20]Adrian Levy, “India Is Building a Top-Secret Nuclear City to Produce Thermonuclear Weapons”, Foreign Policy Magazine, 2015.

[21]Sardar Masood Khan, “Indian Ocean Region: stratregies and challenges”, Pakistan Observer, 2015.

[22]Zarnab Tahir, “Deterrence and second strike capability of South Asia”, Center for Strategic and contemporary Research,2017

[23]Bilal khan, “Is it finally the Pakistan’s Navy turn”, QUWA, Defense news and analysis group, 2015

[24]“PAF inaugurates new operational air base at Bholari near Karachi”, 2017

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Could a maritime chain hub between US-Japan-Viet Nam-India to tackle China?

Gitanjali Sinha Roy

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The rise of China in the last few years has been a cause of concern and as China grew economically, it strengthened its claws in the realm of defense and has been expanding its paws into the territories of other countries which is a violation of a country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Chinese aggressiveness has become the bone of contention and this is a serious matter of concern for all the countries who are facing the China threat. China’s need to dominant certain trade routes; sea-lanes of navigation and communication jeopardizes the concept of a free and open navigable sea route which is unacceptable as no one country completely owns any sea-lanes and routes of trade and communication. Therefore, in order to protect the national interest and freedom of navigation of many countries, this article tries to build an argument on could there be a possibility for a formation of a maritime chain hub consisting of Guam, Okinawa, Cam Ranh Bay and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands which could tackle China’s maritime aggressiveness.

Guam, a former Spanish colony and now one of the 17 non-self-governing territories of the United States of America. Guam has been a military asset since the World War II as the U.S. moved its military aircraft.  Also, during the Viet Nam War, Guam was a major asset in the Pacific as it was a base used by the Americans. Presently, it serves as a major military base for America and has the U.S. Air Force and Navy installations and is also a major hub for the submarine communications cables between the western United States of America, Hawaii, Australia and Asia. There is a huge military presence in Guam and the United States of America moves its military assets and personnel to Okinawa, the Japanese island.  Guam as a naval base port plays a rather important part as it is home to the four nuclear-powered fast attack submarines and two submarine tenders. Also, Guam has the Andersen Air Force Base which hosts the Navy helicopter squadron and Air Force bombers and along with this has two-three kilometers runways and also caters as a storage facility for fueling purposes.

In June 2020, the U.S. Naval Base Guam has been designated as a ‘safe haven liberty port’ and the U.S 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge(LCC 19) and the USS Bunker Hill(CG 52) have been placed here and eventually, on 24 June 2020, the Nimitz Carrier Strike group which consists of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN68), Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton (CG 59) and the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers USS Sterett (DDG 104) and the USS Ralph Johnson (DDG 114) all placed in the safe haven liberty port in Guam. This move to make Guam a safe heaven liberty port should be seen from the perspective of a potential logistical re-supply, possible repairs and a safe place where the sailors could rest and rejuvenate themselves amidst the global Coronavirus pandemic. One needs to understand that Guam needs to be militarized to ensure that North Korea doesn’t attempt any form of attack on Japan which is under the Security umbrella of the U.S. and also, Guam which is an American territory needs to protect itself from North Korea it is in a feasible striking distance and so, this military buildup in Guam by the United States of America is justified.

Japan’s Okinawa is strategically very important for the United States of America as it is a vital component in America’s grand strategy towards the region of East Asia.  Also, the geographical location of Okinawa has a greater meaning as Okinawa is placed between the Philippines, East China Sea and the South China Sea and also the neighbourhood consists of China, Taiwan, the Korean Peninsula and of course the mainland Japan which is a sure game-changer. Okinawa makes an important military outpost, protects the freedom of navigation and the American national cum security interests which inevitably help in the stability of this region. The bases at Okinawa are of geostrategic value as it deals with a fairly flexible range of positions to counter any potential threat and so, help keep interests of Japan safe especially with regard to the Senkaku Islands and the presence of America at Okinawa is a clear deterrent for China incase it tries to create any provocation. Also, South Korea is in an alliance with the United States of America and so, Okinawa also acts as a critical component in dealing with North Korea and in order to maintain peace in this region, the American marines plays a vital role as protectors. Also, for Taiwan, the presence of American forces at Okinawa helps Taiwan from China’s threats. Therefore, Okinawa plays the role of a major game-changer in the region of East Asia.

Viet Nam’s Cam Ranh Bay has always been a melting point of strategic interest since the 19th century as it was a hub of continuous positing of countries like France, Russia, Japan and the United States of America where their navies were stationed well as the Cam Ranh Bay acted as an excellent protected natural harbour along with being a refueling station. The geostrategic location of Cam Ranh Bay is near the South China Sea and this is therefore called the ‘Apple of the Eye of the East’ as it can help contain Chinese aggressiveness in the region. Also, the Japan-Guam-Australia Fiber-Optic Submarine Cable System Project is being developed with the help of Japan and the United States of America. Cam Ranh Bay if redeveloped could the most valuable asset that Viet Nam has.

India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands is as of today one of the most sort after strategic hub of islands as it is being developed into a maritime and startup hub and the recent inauguration of the submarine optic fiber cable between Chennai and these islands would change the face of digital connectivity. India has also proposed transhipment hub in the Andamans helping these group of islands become a major centre for blue economy and maritime cum startup hub. Also since 2019, the Indian Naval Air Station-INS Kohassa has been developing the island in full swing and this could well become a vital strategic outpost for India  and can easier watch and monitor the rival navies activities along with set an integrated surveillance network.

The question is how does Guam-Okinawa-Cam Ranh Bay-Andaman and Nicobar Islands form a strategic maritime chain hub?

First, Guam is an American territory, Okinawa, a Japanese territory, Cam Ranh Bay, a Vietnamese port and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, an Indian group of islands and so, all these countries are a part of the Quad and this Quad grouping is believed to tackle China’s aggressiveness.

Second, all these countries have excellent relations with another and aim for stronger strategic relations. Japan is in a Security Alliance with the United States of America and Japan is India’s all-weather friend. Due to Japan as a common friend between India and the U.S, they too have excellent strategic partnership with one another. Viet Nam and the United States have been developing relations and are working towards becoming strategic partner. Japan’s relations with Viet Nam has been a major part of their ASEAN relations and separately too, Japan has been working on strengthening stronger relations with Viet Nam and in fact, the first visit of Prime Minister Suga is to Viet Nam which highlights Viet Nam’s importance for Japan. India also has wonderful relations with Viet Nam and Viet Nam being the ASEAN Chair in the times of pandemic has played a vital role in medicine, rice and mask diplomacy and has created its niche as a vital and understanding partner in the ASEAN along with evolving as a regional and a global partner in the Indo-Pacific region.

Third, all these four countries are facing security concerns with China.  China has off late made several advances in the East China Sea, South China Sea and the Indian Ocean and all this has impacted the United States of America, Japan, India and Viet Nam as their geostrategic locations are of prime importance to these countries. China has been making aggressive claims in these waters is a violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the US, Japan, India and Viet Nam.

Fourth, Japan has been the pioneer of the Free and Open Indo-Pacific region aiming for a rules-based order so as to have the freedom of navigation and access to sea-lanes and routes to all the nations. After Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced the Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy at the 196thSession of the Diet in January 2018, this strategy was soon adopted by the United States of America and India. ASEAN too adopted this strategy which meant that Viet Nam too has accepted this strategy. Many believe that this Indo-Pacific Strategy is to tackle China’s aggressiveness.

Fifth, Japan’s initiative of the Expanded Partnership for Quality Infrastructure is aimed to promote infrastructure and development cooperation among the countries could also pave the way for port infrastructural development among thee US, India and Viet Nam.

Therefore, keeping in mind, the above-mentioned arguments could well pave the way for a possible formation of a maritime chain hub consisting of Guam, Okinawa, Cam Ranh Bay and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands which could tackle China’s maritime aggressiveness.

The views expressed are personal

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Hidden Traces in the Armenia-Azerbaijan Сonflict

Dr.Basel Haj Jasem

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From a geographical perspective, the location of the Azerbaijani city of Tovuz, which witnessed penultimate clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenia in July, proves that the recent clashes had nothing to do with the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, as it is far from the Azerbaijani territories occupied by Armenia.

The city of Tovuz is located near the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum natural gas pipeline, both of which are gates for Azerbaijan to transport its oil and natural gas, the so-called “Caspian Sea wealth,” to Turkey, Europe and other global markets.

A Blow to Russian Interests

The location of the attack or the clashes indicates that they were against Turkish-Western and Turkish-Azerbaijani interests. Nonetheless, they are also a blow against Russia’s interests and role in a region of great geopolitical importance for Moscow and other international and regional players who are worried by the state of consensus emerging Between Ankara and Moscow in Syria. Attempts are being made to repeat such consensus in Libya, with foreign media having reported headlines addressing the new “front” between Moscow and Ankara in this context.

Paris believes that the missile attack (in the first months of 2018) launched by the U.S., Britain and France in Syria created a rift between Russia and Turkey, who have different views on some issues, especially in Syria. French President Emmanuel Macron said this in a televised interview.

It is no secret that the Western attacks in Syria at that time sought, among other things, to cause a rift in relations between Russia and Turkey. Thus any disagreement between Moscow and Ankara is in the interest of the West, so the West will continue to exert pressure on the points of difference between them.

Barely hours after Moscow and Ankara announced the beginning of a Russian-Turkish agreement regarding Libya weeks ago, Macron told reporters on July 23 that “in this part of the Mediterranean, which is vital for our countries, energy and security issues are essential…The issue is related to a struggle for influence, especially by Turkey and Russia, which are asserting their presence more and more, and in the face of this, the European Union has so far done little.” He continued, “It would be a grave mistake to leave our security in the Mediterranean in the hands of other parties. This is not an option for Europe, and this is something France will not let happen.”

Russian-Turkish Rapprochement

The rapprochement with Turkey was a positive event for Russia, especially in light of the sanctions imposed by the West on Moscow after the Ukraine crisis. The Astana process was a kind of compromise, a success for both Moscow and Ankara, and Syria turned into a stage for an exciting reconciliation between the two. This coincided with the coldness of their relationship with the West.

The increased economic cooperation and growth of trade volume are beneficial for both Ankara and Moscow, which both need it. The deals signed, including a nuclear plant and a gas pipeline that will allow Moscow to gain independence from Ukraine and export its gas to Europe via the Black Sea and Turkey, all are steps of good cooperation.

The handover of the Russian S-400 system to Turkey is also a matter of pride and sovereignty for the latter, which feels the West’s betrayal of it on several issues. This includes membership in the European Union, Washington’s support for the Syrian extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) (classified on NATO’s terrorist lists), and the extradition of Gulen.

However, all of the above does not mean Ankara has turned its back on the West, as the strategic partnership continues, despite the current rapprochement with Russia imposed by geopolitics and economy.

Trying to Feel For a Pulse

Amid the exchange of accusations between Baku and Yerevan about igniting the recent clashes, whoever started it is targeting Moscow first, and secondly, torpedoing the rapprochement that is likely to develop between Russia and Turkey. It may be in the context of an attempt to feel for a pulse, see if Moscow will adopt a new position on this conflict that has extended since the end of the last century. This is especially after the recent political developments, with the new government taking office in Armenia maintaining a Western policy.

Moscow is aware that Armenia needs Russia more than Russia needs Armenia, yet a fallout would mean losing one of its back gardens in the former Soviet yard. This may affect Russia’s long-term influence and ability to manoeuvre, imposing its opinion as an international power in the global arena in general, and in the former Soviet space in particular.

Russia needs Armenia, a traditional ally, in the Collective Security Organization and other regional economic alliances, as well as in light of the Georgia-Russia conflict. Moscow also needs Azerbaijan, a country that occupies an important geopolitical position.

Moscow and Baku are linked in many areas of joint cooperation, from cross-border security and energy to the exploitation of Caspian Sea resources and transport projects. The Kremlin does not want to turn Azerbaijan or Armenia into Georgia or Ukraine again, so Moscow will not push Baku away, thus allowing foreign powers to push Russia out of the region.

In fact, one would find that Russia is allied with Armenia, and there is a state of partnership with Azerbaijan, with Moscow playing a mediating role (acceptable to both sides) in settling the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict.

From our partner RIAC

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Germany continues to expand its military presence in Lithuania

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The German Air Force is setting up a Deployable Control and Reporting Centre (DCRC) at Šiauliai Air Base, Lithuania, supplemented by additional sub-elements at Skede, Latvia and Ämari, Estonia. German soldiers are preparing to augment the static CRCs at Karmėlava, Lielvarde (Latvia) and Tallinn (Estonia) and support situational awareness for the airspace in the Baltic region. Subdivisions of the DCRC are also deployed in Skede (Latvia) and Amari (Estonia).

The German Air Force Control and Reporting Centre are closely connected with the other Baltic CRCs and NATO’s Combined Air Operations Centre at Uedem, Germany, to help control NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission and demonstrate interoperability.

Germany is Lithuania’s principal ally and a cornerstone guarantee of security and stability in Europe. The Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Lithuania and the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany concerning Temporary Stays of Members of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Lithuania and the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Germany in the Territory of the Other State was written in the summer of 2020.

Germany is also an active participant of the NATO Air Policing Mission in the Baltic States and delegates officers to the NATO Force Integration Unit in Vilnius.

Germany is the framework nation of the NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battalion Battle Group deployed for deterrence and defence purposes in Rukla since early 2017, and has the largest portion of troops there. A Mechanised Infantry Brigade of the Lithuanian Armed Forces was affiliated to a German Bundeswehr Division in 2018.

Generally, the Baltic States are now on the front line of the increasing tension between NATO and the Russian Federation. In order to lure the NATO and American militaries into their territory, the Baltic governments compete in propaganda, day and night broadcasting message about the “hand of Moscow” that allegedly threatens them.

Further positioning of NATO forces in the Baltic region could spark inadvertent escalation. NATO’s joint forces and its subsequent efforts to keep the Baltics by massive force deployment would irritate Moscow.

Russia might escalate the situation and even could use nuclear weapons. In addition, Ambiguous Nuclear Doctrines in NATO’s and Russia’s nuclear policies create the potential for deliberate escalation.

Thus, a potential conflict between NATO and Russia could provoke not only the use of conventional weapons, but also nuclear weapons.

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