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« Chinese officials ban PNG & foreign media but not China’s hacks | Main | Glimmers of change in the land that #MeToo forgot »

18 November 2018


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Martin Auld

'I don't know where Russia comes into the West Papua issue'.

The former Soviet Union not only supported the inclusion of West Papua into Indonesia but gave Sukarno the winning hand when they sent a dozen submarines to TNI, with Soviet crews serving in TNI uniform. They were given instructions to lock on to the Dutch fleet, based in Biak, and the Dutch signed West Papua away seconds later.

Biak is historically symbolic as well as strategic. Russia has a MOU with Jakarta to build a rocket launching site on Biak. The upgraded Russian military exercises in Biak this time last year during which RAAF base Darwin was placed on alert when nuclear capable Tupelovs were in the air, were a direct consequence of the upgraded US Marine rotations in Darwin. [The presence of US forces in Darwin makes RI the polony in the sandwich in a potential US-PRC conflict.]

Jakarta had wanted to be informed in confidence beforehand because it directly affected their security. There's been a trust deficit since 1999, we can't have enough confidence building measures.

US involvement in the Lombrum base doesn't involve transit through Indonesia waters and EEZ and Jakarta will welcome any strategic denial of China [which subsidises the Melanesian Spearhead], though they're unlikely to say so in the public domain. It could even put Jakarta under more pressure to abandon their traditional neutral stance and move toward a US anti China bloc.

TNI will however be concerned that US and Aust forces in both Darwin and Lombrum appear to 'encircle' West Papua and TNI will use this fear to demand more money for basing in Papua. They've already done so successfully in Sorong.

Russia is a UN veto holder.

Look for Jakarta to hedge, and to invite more Russian cooperation.

'it certainly does not have Indonesia on board'

Nobody does. RI is neutral.

We would like them to move from neutrality into a US led bloc, whereas the PRC can accept neutrality. Like PNG Jakarta is using the present state of great power rivalry to extract whatever it can. Shake the tree collect the goodies.

Russia wants more military sales, Jakarta wants more Sukhois but cheaper. Jakarta doesn't possess a good array of early warning radars, they need stronger more reliable batteries. China has offered to provide them with a new array.

Martin Auld

Now we have Indonesia and Russia on one half of the island, the US and Australia on the other. Jakarta was upset when we didn't inform them ahead of the media when the upgraded US rotations in Darwin were announced. Wonder if things have improved enough to have given them a heads up in confidence this time.

I don't know where Russia comes into the West Papua issue. While Russia aspires to a visible presence in south-east Asia, it certainly does not have Indonesia on board at present. See for example the report below from East Asia Forum (June 2018) which explains just how difficult this may be - KJ

Will Self

Incidentally, the Administrative Report on the Manumanu purchase is posted on the PNGi website. That would have to be the biggest ever fraud on the people of PNG - and the most sophisticated.

Lindsay F Bond

Yes, Will. That will save the cost of defence as was needed at Scapa Flow and the engagement of netting that thwarts sub-surface penetration.

Will Self

Surely they should develop the Manumanu Naval Base. That is why the State paid K46 million for land that is four kilometers inland.

Bernard Corden

Any collaboration from the US begins at 30,000 feet.

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