Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov goes at the end of the week to tour the countries of Southeast Asia, during which he will visit the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand.
The program of the visit of the head of Russian diplomacy is quite rich: the minister will take part in ASEAN ministerial meetings in the Philippines on August 6-8, meet with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Manila and, as expected, with the foreign ministers of several Asian countries.
In Indonesia and Thailand, Lavrov will discuss with his colleagues the issues of further development of bilateral relations and topical issues of the international agenda. It is not excluded that the sides will touch upon the issues concerning the worsening of the situation on the Korean peninsula.
A new phase in Russia-US relations
Since the appointment of Tillerson as Secretary of State earlier this year, Russian and US foreign ministers met four times: in Bonn, Hamburg, Moscow and Washington. And each time the American side assured of its intention to work on improving relations with Moscow.
The fifth meeting will be held against the backdrop of another scandal – the United States has introduced the largest sanctions over the past three years, directed, in particular, against the Russian energy sector. Experts argue that in this way, Americans are trying to force Russia out of the European energy market, disrupt the implementation of the Nord Stream-2 and force Europeans to buy American liquefied gas.
Moscow called such actions rudeness and the beginning of the trade war and introduced countermeasures in response, which, in particular, suggest reducing the number of employees in American diplomatic representations in Russia by 755 people to 455. This is how many Russian employees in embassies and consulates in the United States currently work.
Soon after this, a telephone conversation took place between Lavrov and Tillerson. According to the US Secretary of State, the conversation was “professionally and without militancy.” He expressed hope that both ministers understand their role and responsibility in current events.
According to Sergei Ryabkov, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, Moscow expects that during the meeting in Manila the US side will show readiness to conduct a constructive conversation on the whole range of issues that have long burdened Russian-American cooperation.
Despite the deterioration of bilateral relations between the Russian Federation and the United States, Lavrov and Tillerson have many topics for discussion. Leonid Polyakov, the head of the department for general political science at the Higher School of Economics, believes that the sides, in addition to questions of Russian-American cooperation, will discuss the settlement of the situation in Syria, in particular, the creation of security zones and the fight against terrorism. In addition, we can talk about the situation around the DPRK and the US supply of lethal weapons to Ukraine. The expert believes that this will be a very tense meeting, since recent events, in particular the signing of the law on sanctions by the US president, opens a new phase in Russian-American relations.
Russia in ASEAN
During his visit to the Philippines on August 6-8, Lavrov will attend the Russia-ASEAN ministerial meeting, the 7th meeting of the foreign ministers of the countries participating in the East Asia Summit (SAC) and the 24th ASEAN regional forum on security (ARF). ASEAN includes Brunei, Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines.
The ASEAN events will be attended by the foreign ministers of the United States, China, Japan, South and North Korea, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and other states participating in the annual ASEAN Security Forum and the ministerial meeting of the East Asian Summit.
It is expected that the fight against terrorism, extremism and violence will be the most important theme of the ASEAN events. As reported earlier by the President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte, following the meeting of the foreign ministers, a statement on the issues of combating terrorism, extremism and violence can be adopted.
According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, during the meeting in the Russia-ASEAN format, it is planned to discuss issues of combating terrorism and cross-border crime, expanding trade and economic and investment cooperation, interaction of the EAEA and ASEAN. The ministers will also consider the implementation of Russian-ASEAN energy plans , Science and technology, agriculture.
As for the negotiations in the format of the Supreme Arbitration Court, Moscow considers it important to continue the multilateral dialogue on the formation of a regional security architecture on this site. In connection with the growing threat of international terrorism, Russia would like to focus on counter-terrorism work. The Russian Foreign Ministry said that it was proposed in co-authorship with Indonesia to submit for approval of the summit in the Philippines a declaration on countering the spread of terrorist ideology. Moscow expects that this document will receive broad support from the partners in the forum.
In addition, Russia and the ASEAN “ten” will consider cooperation in such areas as finance, energy, health, education and emergency response.
As part of the ASEAN Regional Forum on Security, the focus is on the development of confidence-building measures and preventive diplomacy, countering terrorism and organized crime, disarmament and non-proliferation of WMD, maritime security, emergency response, the Russian Foreign Ministry reported.
Moscow notes that the forthcoming launch of mechanisms for interaction in the field of information security – inter-sessional meetings and the Open-ended Support Group on Confidence-Building Measures in this area – is in the interests of Russia. “It is expected that the new body will become a platform for substantive dialogue and exchange of experience in this area, assessing regional threats in cyberspace and building the capacity of participating countries to combat them,” the Foreign Ministry reported.
Following the meeting, it is planned to adopt a statement on combating drugs and countering illegal, unreported fishing.
ASEAN events will exchange views on the most pressing international and regional issues, including the situation on the Korean peninsula, the situation in Syria, the Middle East settlement.
Head of the Center for Southeast Asia, Australia and Oceania of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, head of the department of regional studies of Moscow State University Dmitry Mosyakov believes that ASEAN is the most successful integration association in Asia. “This is an extremely influential international organization.
Of course, Russia’s participation, which aims to develop relations with the ASEAN countries within the framework of a turn to the East, is extremely important, “the RIA Novosti expert said.
He recalled that Russia has a free trade zone with Vietnam, the formation of a free trade zone with Singapore is preparing, Russia is an important partner of Indonesia in terms of industrial development.
As for the cooperation of the countries within ASEAN in the fight against terrorism, the expert said that this problem is one of the key elements of work in this format.
“There are countries that are really burdened with the fight against terrorism, for example, Indonesia, where a number of terrorist organizations that were active in the explosion, especially on Bali, actively went to. Now many of these terrorists went to IGIL (a terrorist group banned in Russia). In the Middle East, but they can return at any moment.Therefore, for the countries of South-East Asia, and for Malaysia, and for Brunei, for Indonesia, the Philippines, these are all very urgent topics – how to prevent if five people to return to the region, how to prevent imbalance and destabilization of the situation “, – he said.
Negotiations in Jakarta
From the Philippines, the Russian Foreign Minister will pay a visit to Jakarta, where he will hold talks with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, Retno Marsudi, on August 8-9 and open the permanent representation of Russia with ASEAN.
As Indonesian Ambassador to Russia Vahid Supadiyadi told RIA Novosti, Marsudi plans to discuss with Lavrov issues of the bilateral and international agenda, including the fight against terrorism. He noted that the Indonesian side would like to exchange views with its Russian colleagues on this important issue for Jakarta.
According to the ambassador, the parties also plan to discuss the possibility of Indonesia joining the Eurasian Economic Union.
As expected, following the talks, the Foreign Ministers of the Russian Federation and Indonesia will sign a document on strategic partnership. According to the ambassador, this will contribute to further strengthening the relations between Russia and Indonesia.
These days in Moscow, the Russian-Indonesian business forum is taking place, in which Indonesian Commerce Minister Enggartiasto Lukita said he sees great potential in cooperation between Jakarta and Moscow. He noted that the two countries have great potential in the field of investment and trade, especially in the field of energy, infrastructure and mineral resources.
Russia and Indonesia dough cooperate in the field of military-technical cooperation. Jakarta is interested in buying Russian Be-200 amphibians, Mi helicopters and Kilo submarines from Russia. In addition, Indonesia intends to purchase from Russia eight new multipurpose Su-35 fighters, and in the future their number may increase to 16.
Visit is important step in development of relations
In Bangkok, the Russian Foreign Minister will meet August 9-10 with Foreign Minister Don Pramavinay and Prime Minister of Thailand Priut Chang-ochi.
Russian Ambassador to Thailand Kirill Barsky told RIA Novosti earlier that Lavrov’s visit to Bangkok will be a new important step in the development of bilateral relations, the 120th anniversary of which countries celebrate this year. According to him, recently, qualitative changes have come in relations between Russia and Thailand, new promising areas of cooperation have emerged that meet the interests of both countries.
According to him, over the past two years, Russia and Thailand have opened a new page in bilateral relations: they have entered a new stage of mutual recognition, the discovery of new areas of cooperation. Both countries attach special importance to cooperation for national interests, as well as for security and stability interests in the Asia-Pacific region, for promoting the Russia-ASEAN dialogue partnership and accelerating the integration processes in Eurasia.
According to Barsky, in this context, the main task of the forthcoming visit of Lavrov is to “inventory” all that was done in bilateral relations over the past period, assess the progress of implementation of the agreements reached at the highest level and outline ways to further develop cooperation in all areas, and also Discuss the prospects for cooperation between Russia and Thailand in the international arena, coordinate the actions of the two countries to address global and regional problems.
He said that at the moment in Thailand, mourning for the late King Phumiphon Adulyadeju, therefore, it is planned that the Russian Foreign Minister will visit the royal palace and express condolences on his death.