AUKUS will eventually bring China and Russia closer together, but it will split Europe

On September 26th, Russian Television Today (RT) published an article titled ” Plenty more subs in the sea: AUKUS nuclear deal could end up pushing Russia and China closer together but dividing Europe,” written by historian Tarik Cyril Amar of Koc University in Istanbul.

Former US President Barack Obama claimed that Russia is nothing more than a “regional power” at the start of the article, but Russia quickly replied by assisting in the thwarting of the US “regime change” in Syria. Russia and Syria were not in the same region.

The article pointed out that Western adversaries frequently misrepresent or overestimate Russia’s might. Despite the fact that it cannot be compared to the United States, which was preoccupied with starting conflicts after the Cold War, Moscow is powerful enough to make an influence. Russia’s regional security interests cover half of the globe, from Central Europe to the Sea of Japan. As a result, the newly created AUKUS alliance between the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia drew the attention of Russian authorities and the Minister of Defense.

At initially, Russia’s attitude was cautious, but it quickly turned critical. Nikolai Patrushev, the Russian Federation’s Secretary of the Security Council, denounced AUKUS as “the model of NATO in Asia” that would expand its reach by attacking China and Russia.

According to the article, the essence of AUKUS is simple. Its center is the transfer of technology from the United States to Australia, which includes nuclear-powered submarine technology. Only six nations have it so far: China, France, the United Kingdom, Russia, the United States, and India, which uses Russian technology in a complicated arrangement.

Despite the fact that a submarine fueled by a nuclear reactor is not the same as one capable of firing nuclear weapons, this technology has significant strategic value. “Excellent speed, range, stealth, and endurance make nuclear submarines a very powerful offensive weapon that can project power and bring the fight closer to the opponent,” according to the US Naval Research Institute.

There is no question, according to the author, that the AUKUS pact boosted Australia’s military dominance while also indirectly increasing US military influence. At least for the for being, Australia’s political clout in Washington has grown. “The United States has no closer and more reliable ally than Australia,” said US President Joe Biden.

Although the media viewed the US, UK, and Australia signing of AUKUS as primarily aimed at countering China, according to the author’s research, AUKUS can have an impact on Russia in three ways: through its impact on Russia, China (or wider Asia), and the European Union’s influence. In the eyes of China and Russia, Australia’s prospective nuclear-powered submarines will have the range to approach North Pacific seas where the Russian fleet is frequently stationed. These submarines will become a more severe concern if they are outfitted with missiles capable of striking Russia (which is physically possible). As a result, Russia may decide to increase the size of its nuclear submarine fleet in the Pacific. Under these conditions, the current strategic cooperation between China and Russia will only become stronger.

AUKUS, especially when combined with the existing “Quad Security Dialogue” mechanism (Quad) between the US, Japan, India, and Australia, as well as the “Five Eyes Alliance” intelligence cooperation between Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the US, could eventually lead to an alliance. Encourage the formation of an opposition coalition.

Although AUKUS gives optimism to those in the West who want to start a new Cold War with China, its most significant component—the nuclear submarine supplied by the US to Australia—will take more than ten years to complete. Time is something that can be provided. Russia has cause for concern, but it must not overreact. In reality, only those Westerners who want a rerun of the Cold War will gain from this.

This does not rule out the possibility that Russia, like other countries, would seek its own benefits. For example, Russia may use AUKUS to share its nuclear submarine technology with Asia and other countries. Last but not least, Russia may seek to capitalize on nations like Indonesia and Malaysia’s displeasure in order to enhance bilateral ties and security measures.

Although AUKUS is primarily geared at China, the report stated that it is not only China that is dissatisfied with it. France, an EU member, is the only country in the world that is more enraged than China. The United States’ formation of a new alliance in the Pacific area has caused the most hurt and insult to the United States’ longest European partner. France was booted out of the submarine agreement with Australia, and the United States’ harshness is generally reserved for tiny Middle Eastern countries (except for Israel and Saudi Arabia, of course).

After being booted out of the submarine agreement, France recalled its diplomats in Washington and Canberra and made vehement statements about “stabbing in the back,” but the insult to France appears to have remained mostly unchanged. The European Union’s relationship with the United States has deteriorated. Regardless of differing viewpoints, the EU will not unify behind France. There are indications that the European Union as a whole is hesitant to challenge the US seriously just because France feels embarrassed.

Because of France, the author argues that Western Europe does not want to offend the United States. Following the announcement of AUKUS by the US, UK, and Australia, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Borelli, first backed France, then issued a mild warning to the US, UK, and Australia, reminding them of an obvious truth: partnership usually entails cooperation and coordination. However, the EU’s response to the United States will be limited to this. Anyone in France who believes this is foolish.

The article concluded that, under Macron’s leadership, France has become the most ardent supporter of European “strategic autonomy”—basically, the idea that the world is so affluent, crowded, and developed that it should be treated as such. The region should be self-sufficient. However, no consensus has emerged in Western Europe on this subject. Europe was unable to achieve an agreement even after Trump declared his brutal “America first” strategy and the implementation of AUKUS. Any Russian who expects France’s humiliation to create a schism between the United States and the European Union will be disappointed: the EU is neither clever nor united enough to do so.

Raihan Ronodipuro
Raihan Ronodipuro
Raihan Ronodipuro holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the prestigious School of Public Policy & Management at Tsinghua University, China. His academic journey was propelled by the esteemed Chinese MOFCOM Scholarship, leading him to successfully attain a Master of Law in International Relations from the School of International and Public Affairs at Jilin University, China. With a rich background, Raihan has also contributed as an Associate Researcher in the Department of Politics and Security at the Center for Indonesia-China Studies (CICS). Currently, he plays a pivotal role as a member of the International Relations Commission within the Directorate of Research and Studies for the Overseas Indonesian Students' Association Alliance (OISAA) for the term 2022/2023.