Russia and ASEAN Nations form Strategic Partnership



Planned since spring 2017, Vladimir Putin has followed through on his promise to form a strategic partnership with the ten South East Asia nations. The words of Sergei Lavrov, Minister of Russian Federation Foreign affairs on the The Polycentric World and The Asia-Pacific Age are instructive about Russia’s forward looking designs.

Update Midnight in Singapore: A joint Release of The Russian Federation and ASEAN has been released at day’s end: ASEAN-Russia-Joint-Statement

Feature article by Micheal John,micheal.john@rinj.press Writer | Editor

Asean Handout - 14 November 2018 Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysian Prime Minister,  Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar State Counsellor,  Rodrigo Duterte, President of the Philippines,  Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Laotian Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith at the 3rd ASEAN-Russia Summit on 14 November 2018. A memorandum of understanding between ASEAN and the Eurasian Economic Union was signed Wednesday. PHOTO: ASEAN 2018 handout.

Background

Future historians may note this week’s ASEAN proceedings, particularly the East Asian Summit, as a milestone in epic global strategic change.

FPMag sees energy and security strongly written behind the more benign words of the ASEAN/Russian alliance  like “trade development” and “communications cooperation”.  It’s about security (military weapons) and fossil fuels (oil and gas energy).

On the military side of this motivational backdrop FPMag sees the words of France’s president as instructive.

Last week, France’s Emmanuel Macron boldy uttered the words everyone has been thinking. For all its security protection agreements, America can not be relied upon. Numerous Asia/Pacific security protection alliances are in question. As a growing military super power, Russia amy appear to be a sound alternative.

On the energy side of the two-faced motivational coin, the changing global dynamic coupled with ecological factors imply a different course of action would be more forward looking. South East Asia needs to harness the sun for energy and seek clean alternatives to fossil fuels. Pollution and clean air are enormous impediments to citizen health says the World Health Organization and The RINJ Foundation about this region.

Nevertheless, current reliance on Middle East oil and gas is a fool’s game. Interim solutions are needed amd Russia has one.

At the end of 2016 Alexey Miller, the head of Russia’s largest energy company Gazprom, noted that the increasing dynamic in energy consumption in the Pacific Rim region led to the extremely competitive rivalry for oil and gas supplies between Europe and Asia.

Tokyo depends on Middle East energy significantly, but with instability in the Persian Gulf and Mediterranean regions, Japan must diversify its energy suppliers as a national strategic imperative.

Japan sees energy cooperation with Russia as strategically crucial, as indicated by the speech of Hiroshi Meguro, the general director at Mitsui & Co Moscow, during a conference in the fall of 2016.

Meguro has been investing in Russia’s energy sector for at least the last 15 years.

The Russian Sakhalin-2 project, which manages liquid natural gas production and its transport to the Asia-Pacific countries is another project Meguro has bought into.

Nobuo Tanaka, a former executive director of International Energy Agency (2007-2011), has called for greater energy cooperation with Russia.  Asia-Pacific countries should be concerned with low oil prices.

Among the countries currently seeking energy solutions is the Philippines. 

It is safe to conclude, and many experts have said so, now more than ever, ASEAN needs Russia in a very big way to diversify the Asian energy markets.

Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong welcomes Vladimir Putin.

Your Majesty, excellencies. On behalf of all of the ASEAN leaders, may I welcome President Vladimir Putin to Singapore. And we are very honoured that you can join us at this 3rd ASEAN-Russia summit.The last time ASEAN and Russia’s leaders met was in 2016 in Sochi, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of ASEAN-Russia dialogue relations. I am very happy that since then we have made much progress in our partnership. ASEAN and Russia work together in a broad range of areas, from political security issues to economic, to social and cultural issues. Russia also participates actively in ASEAN-led fora like the ASEAN Regional Forum, the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus the East Asia Summit.Today’s summit is timely because it gives both sides the opportunity to reaffirm our commitment, to further strengthen ASEAN-Russia ties. The two ASEAN and Russian leaders will issue a joint statement as well as a statement on cooperation in the field of security and in the use of information and communication technologies. We will also witness a signing of an MoU on economic cooperation. And these deliverables highlight the breadth and scope of the ASEAN-Russia relationship.

Singapore supports upgrading the ASEAN-Russia relationship to a strategic partnership. I am confident that this strategic partnership will enhance cooperation in areas which are of interest to both sides. And I look forward to our discussion with President Putin and our fellow ASEAN leaders on how we can further strengthen this dialogue partnership.

Trade between ASEAN Nations & Russia Increased 35 %

Trade between Russia and the ASEAN nations has increased in the past 12 months, Vladimir Putin told the Russia/ASEAN conference yesterday when he spoke at the plenary session of the Summit.

Mr. Putin declared Russia will participate in Asean’s plans of establishing a network of smart cities and invited Asean representatives to attend the St Petersburg International Economic Forum (6 June 2019) and the Eastern Economic Forum (4-6 September 2019).

  • Important: The remarks of President of Russia Vladimir Putin:
Mr Chairman, Colleagues:

First of all, I would like to thank the Prime Minister of the Republic of Singapore, Mr Lee Hsien Loong, for the initiative to host the Russia-ASEAN summit.

Russia pays great attention to the development of relations with ASEAN based on mutual respect and consideration for each other’s interests.At the May 2016 Sochi summit, which Mr Prime Minister just mentioned, we adopted a declaration and an action plan aimed at taking cooperation between Russia and ASEAN to the strategic partnership level.

Over the past two years, we have accomplished a lot together. Political dialogue intensified; Russia’s permanent mission to ASEAN was established in Jakarta last year. We coordinate our approaches to key issues on the Asia-Pacific agenda, to the challenges and threats to regional stability, and enhance joint efforts to fight terrorism, drug trafficking and organised crime.

Our foreign ministers hold annual meetings. The Russian Defence Minister takes part in the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ meetings, and the Interior Minister attends the ASEAN Association of Chiefs of Police (ASEANAPOL) conferences. Contacts have also been established between Russian lawmakers and the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly.

Economic relations are evolving steadily. In 2017, Russia’s trade with ASEAN increased by 35 percent. Mutual accumulated investment exceeds $25 billion.

Our joint business cooperation roadmap containing about 60 joint projects in industry and high technology is being successfully implemented. There are cooperation programmes in energy and agriculture. The Russia-ASEAN Business Council is active too.

It would be useful to continue the work of the Russian delegation to the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit, which ended in Singapore yesterday.

In turn, business leaders from ASEAN countries are always widely represented at the St Petersburg and Eastern Economic forums in Russia. Taking this opportunity, I would like to invite ASEAN officials and business representatives to visit Russia to attend the next meetings of these forums in 2019.

We consider it important to establish regular dialogue between ASEAN and the Eurasian Economic Union. The signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Association and the Eurasian Economic Commission is a step in this direction.

We are grateful to our ASEAN partners for supporting the Russian initiative to pass a joint statement on information security aiming to more effectively combat cybercrime and to chart common approaches regarding the behaviour of states in the global information space.

Russia will join ASEAN plans to establish a chain of smart cities. Moscow, the Russian capital, leads the way in introducing urban digital technology. Moscow already proactively cooperates with Singapore on a bilateral basis. We hope that the region of this cooperation will expand on a reciprocal basis.

It goes without saying that close coordination in emergency response to natural disasters and industrial accidents is in high demand. We have finished working on a cooperation memorandum for preventing emergency situations and conducting clean-up operations. We hope that it will be possible to sign this document soon.

We are ready to continue helping ASEAN states in their efforts to check the spread of infectious diseases. We suggest tapping the potential of various programmes to raise the qualification of medical personnel at a biological safety and security centre that has opened in Vladivostok earlier this year. We could also consider holding joint exercises and practicing rapid response measures to combat dangerous infectious diseases.

In addition, I would like to note the sustained development of cultural and humanitarian ties between Russia and the ASEAN states.

Two weeks ago, Myanmar hosted the first meeting of the working group on education. We are implementing an action plan in the area of science, technology and innovation until 2025. A network of research centres of leading Russian and ASEAN universities has been operating since April.

It would be useful to organise educational and university forums on a regular basis. Russia successfully hosted such events in 2016 and 2017.

The holding of Russia-ASEAN youth summits helps strengthen ties between young people of our countries. The Republic of the Philippines is to host the next summit in 2019.

Colleagues,

I have only set out the most important aspects of Russia-ASEAN cooperation, as well as key agreements and documents that were drafted ahead of the summit.

I am confident that wide-ranging opportunities and horizons are opening up for our expanded cooperation.

I am counting on an open and interested exchange of opinions.

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin, President, Russia

Transcript Source: http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/59120

MoU Publicly Signed, Others Concluded in Closed Sessions

Following the program, a memorandum of understanding was signed between all the nations of ASEAN and Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).

The agreement in principle was actually one of several agreements of cooperation under the framework of  the ASEAN/Russian Strategic Partnership.  According to Prime Minister Lee, these have included unspecified agreements in the “political, security, economic. and socio-cultural fronts”.

In this instance the MoU includes all the nations of the EEU.  Customs procedures and trade facilitation are at the forefront of the undertaking; but other housekeeping measures preparatory for expanded trade are included. Sanitary and phytosanitary measures; technical regs; e-commerce parameters; the how-to for trade in services; and investment undertakings; as well as business development frameworks are all referenced in the MoU.

Additionally, for which there is still only scanty data, agreements between ASEAN and Russia include cooperation leading to shared security technology, information technology and communication technologies.

Association of South East Asian Nations is a complex and Inclusive Entity

ASEAN have an estimated 635.9 million inhabitants in the ten nations in 2014 which is the last year that data was available for all the nations. (UN and other sources.) The most populous country is Indonesia followed by the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand.

Rank Nation Population (@ 2014)
1 Indonesia 251,490,000
2 Philippines 101,649,000
3 Vietnam 92,571,000
4 Thailand 65,236,000

ASEAN includes the following core members:

  1. Brunei Darussalam,
  2. Cambodia,
  3. Indonesia,
  4. Laos,
  5. Malaysia,
  6. Myanmar,
  7. the Philippines,
  8. Singapore,
  9. Thailand and
  10. Vietnam.

ASEAN extends membership for various interlocking diplomatic sub groups.

A. The ASEAN Free Trade Area § ASEAN Plus Three includes,

  1. China,
  2. Japan and
  3. South Korea, all in attendance at the 33rd ASEAN Summit in Singapore.

B. ASEAN has two candidate/observer states: 

  1. Independent State of Papua New Guinea, and  
  2. Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (East-Timor).

C. ASEAN’s East Asia Summit is of particular concern to Putin/Russia and that Summit takes place todaym in fact it is on now. It includes all of the foregoing members in their capacity as stated plus

  1. Australia,
  2. India,
  3. New Zealand,
  4. Russia and
  5. The United States.

D. ASEAN’s Regional Forum is an quasi-informal multilateral dialogue of 27 states addressing security issues in the Asia-Pacific region. The list includes all the members of the East Asia Summit plus:

  1. Bangladesh,
  2. Canada,
  3. Mongolia,
  4. North Korea,
  5. Pakistan,
  6. Sri Lanka and
  7. European Union.

Eurasian Economic Union

The EEU includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia. Moldava became an observer nation in April 2017.

Country Population Date World position
 Armenia 2,981,500 March 31, 2017 135
 Belarus 9,498,600 April 1, 2017 93
 Kazakhstan 18,014,200 June 1, 2017 65
 Kyrgyzstan 6,140,200 January 1, 2017 110
 Russia 146,804,372 January 1, 2017 9
 Moldava (Observer) 3,300,000 est April 14, 2017