Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov gave speech in Singapore at the 14th Asia Security Summit “SHANGRI-LA DIALOGUE 2015”
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the delegation of the Russian Ministry of Defence I would like to express our gratitude to the International Institute for Strategic Studies and the Government of Singapore for hospitality and excellent organization of this event.
The annual Asia Security Summit “Shangri-La Dialogue” has become an authoritative, well-respected and most importantly – highly relevant forum bringing together top-level defence officials from across the Asia-Pacific region as well as representatives of academic community and NGOs. Together we are trying to address tough security challenges faced by our region and find mutually acceptable solutions to create an atmosphere of peace, stability and mutually beneficial cooperation.
This year marks the 70th Anniversary of the Great Victory – the main event of the year. We are grateful to all those countries which shared the joy of this holiday with us as well as the pain from the ordeal and losses of that war. This Great Victory is an event of great historical importance uniting the entire progressive mankind in its struggle for peace and security.
It is unthinkable to question the decisive contribution of the Soviet Union to achieving that Victory. Fighting side by side with other European and Asian nations we defeated fascism and militarism.
Today more than ever collective efforts are needed to immortalize the memory of war victims, prevent the revival of fascist and militarist ideology which, I regret to say, is still manifesting itself in Europe and other parts of the world.
Much has been said on the resurgence and global significance of the Asia-Pacific region. There is hardly any doubt that the future belongs to it. To our country, being an integral part of the Asia-Pacific, peace and prosperity in this region is a matter of paramount importance. Based on this premise we are building our work with all the countries concerned.
Against the backdrop of rapid economic growth in the region and its growing impact on the world affairs, there is still much to be done in order to create a regional architecture of equal and indivisible security that would guarantee peace and security of all nations, regardless of their size and military capabilities .
We consider this an important mission in view of a wide range of long standing unresolved issues on the security agenda as well as new challenges and threats. All of them together, and some of them individually in certain circumstances may destabilize the regional situation, provoke a burst of military-political tensions and even lead to open confrontation.
Our joint work to resolve the situation on the Korean peninsula is stagnating. It is important to step up efforts toward its denuclearization and national reconciliation between the North and the South.
Among the most severe problems confronting the Asia-Pacific, such as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, territorial disputes, maritime piracy, arms smuggling, drug trafficking and cyber crime, international terrorism poses the most imminent threat.
It is disturbing that in some parts of the world terrorists are turning into a real force and now claim to come to power in several states.
We should not remain indifferent to the appalling facts of certain countries providing assistance to terrorist groups, following their own self-serving national agenda. Terrorists only allow to be controlled until they gain enough strength, but then they come out of control, posing a serious threat to their own patrons.
Unfortunately, the International Security Assistance Force failed its mission in Afghanistan. The security situation in this country remains a matter of concern, and the flow of drugs has grown manifold.
The Taliban movement maintains considerable combat capability. According to some reports, about 50 thousand militants are currently fighting in Afghanistan. Inside the country, as well as in the border area a whole network of camps has been deployed for training terrorists, including suicide bombers.
Tensions are mounting in the north of Afghanistan where ISIL cells have found fertile soil. This terrorist group has already taken control over huge parts of Iraq and Syria.
Terrorists are also active in the Asia-Pacific. For example, extremists of JAMAA ISLAMIYA are seeking to create a single theocratic state within the borders of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the Muslim provinces of Thailand and the Philippines.
These facts prove right Russia's stance on the need to renounce double standards and unite efforts in combating terrorism.
Russia offers comprehensive support to legitimate national authorities in their fight against terrorism and extremism. To that end, for instance, we supply Tajikistan with significant amounts of weapons and military equipment. Of course, Russia provides assistance to Afghanistan through bilateral channels to improve the capacity of the Afghan national security forces.
The epidemic of “color revolutions” that initially struck the Middle East swept away like a hurricane entire states.
This disease has affected some European countries as well. We are witnessing the unrest in Macedonia so outrageously orchestrated from the outside. But the biggest devastation inflicted by a “color revolution” so far has been in Ukraine. Western spin masters have deployed the most sophisticated technologies aimed directly against the interests of Russia taking into account that several million native Russians reside in Ukraine.
Ukraine is now drowning in crisis, the country is close to the declaration of default. Anti-constitutional coup plunged the country into civil war, as the "party of war" proponents continue to push the government for a military gamble. Meanwhile, a full-scale humanitarian disaster is unfolding. More than 6 thousand people have died.
Right now we need to do the utmost for a complete and consistent implementation of the Minsk agreements of February 12, 2015. May I remind you that these agreements have been endorsed by the UN Security Council resolution and therefore carry international legal status. We call upon all the countries participating in the Normandy quartet process to act honestly and without double standards.
No one can feel absolutely safe, entertaining the fact that “color revolutions” have not come to the Asia-Pacific. The thing is, it may happen at any moment once the Western elites feel unhappy about the policy of a state and make a decision on the introduction of "democratic" values. We recall the Umbrella revolution in Hong Kong. Who is next?
World's leading countries should pursue responsible policy in the Asia-Pacific. It is important to realize that no "rebalancing", saber- rattling, military build-up, policy of pressure, intimidation and "containment" or information aggression will solve our problems. On the contrary, they will aggravate the situation and sow the seeds of distrust, fostering an arms race in the region.
In this context, we are concerned about the US policy in the Asia-Pacific given that it becomes more and more focused on systemic "containment" of Russia and China.
We are witnessing undisguised U.S. pressure on the Asia-Pacific countries, demanding from them to freeze any interaction with us including naval cooperation. The goal is to minimize possibilities for the Russian Navy and Air Force to use foreign airfields and sea ports. The most recent example - the attempt to stop Vietnam from servicing the Russian long-range aircraft in national airports.
There is an obvious desire of the US to bring their AEGIS carrying warships closer to the Russian coast and place hypersonic weapons on board VIRGINIA submarine under the concept of "Prompt Global Strike".
Despite our concerns over US global missile defense architecture, the United States is proceeding with the policy of undermining strategic stability by adding a regional segment of missile "shield" in the Asia-Pacific. The desired MD capability in the region will significantly exceed the level necessary to neutralize possible missile challenges and threats.
Of course, we are not the only ones to see this uneasy situation in the Asia-Pacific. We should counteract unilateral approaches to the security architecture by upholding the international law and developing mutual respect to the national interests of every state. I want to emphasize that no country has the right to strengthen their security at the expense of others.
This region already has a system of multilateral forums and mechanisms - East Asia Summits, ASEAN Regional Forum on Security, Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia, ADMM-Plus, SCO.
We stand for convergence and synergy of ideas brought forward by these multilateral structures.
In 2013, together with China and Brunei, Russia launched the initiative to develop framework principles of security cooperation. We believe that the security architecture in the region should be based on the rule of international law, the principles of peaceful settlement of disputes, non-use of force or threat of force. Many countries have supported this effort on the platform of East Asia Summits.
Our ideas are correlated to a great extent with other national initiatives. I am referring to the new Concept of Security in Asia proposed by China, the Indonesian Initiative on Conclusion of the Indo-Pacific Agreement on Friendship and Cooperation, as well as the proposal by India on Asia-Pacific Security Architecture. The Initiative of Peace and Cooperation in Northeast Asia put forward by the President of the Republic of Korea serves the same purpose.
It is important to enshrine agreed approaches in the concept paper on comprehensive security in the Asia-Pacific. The ultimate goal would be a legally binding treaty. This should be a step by step process involving as many countries as possible.
We acknowledge the important role of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) as part of the emerging regional security and cooperation architecture. We support the goals of the Chinese chairmanship in CICA in 2014-2016. We are committed to close coordination and constructive cooperation with our partners in their fulfillment.
We attach great importance to strengthening cooperation in the format of ASEAN Defense Ministers Plus meetings (ADMM-Plus). This mechanism allows to successfully implement a broad program of development of military ties in six primary areas.
We highly appreciate the results of Myanmar chairmanship in the ADMM-Plus in 2014. This baton has now been successfully taken up by Malaysia. It provides a solid foundation for our common work for the future.
The Third ADMM-Plus Ministerial Meeting in November this year is another milestone event, which will reaffirm the fundamental principles of the forum, its focus on confidence-building and practical cooperation between military agencies.
In 2016, as co-chairs with Thailand in the Expert Working Group on military medicine we are organizing an exercise on military-medical assistance in crisis situations. Assets of all ASEAN Participating States and its partners are to be engaged in this exercise.
Creation of the ASEAN Center for Military Medical Coordination will facilitate long-term and effective practical cooperation between our specialists.
We see good prospects of cooperation in maritime security, peacekeeping operations, logistic support, as well as in dealing with new challenges and threats, primarily international terrorism.
Joint exercises and naval maneuvers will improve our team-play in addressing security threats to our nations.
We intend to participate in the upcoming ADMM-Plus exercise on maritime security and counter-terrorism in the South China Sea in May 2016. Therefore I would like to wish success to our colleagues from Brunei, New Zealand, Singapore and Australia (co-chairs of the respective working groups).
We will continue our engagement in the ARF (ASEAN Regional Forum on security) defence officials' dialogue and security policy conferences.
We lack trust. Some of our colleagues say that the use of European experience would fix this. In our opinion, however, the realities of the Asia-Pacific region will not allow mechanical replication of confidence-building measures adopted in Europe. Moreover, in the course of the Ukrainian crisis many of these measures have failed and have lost their credibility.
What more can be done to build trust?
It appears that we could and should start with voluntary transparency in our military activities including mutual information sharing on military exercises.
This is exactly what the Russian Defence Ministry does. The practice of random operational readiness check-ups which causes so much concern in NATO member states, we keep informing in good faith the military attachés on the objectives and timelines of the drills.
In addition to that, through OSCE channels, we immediately distribute official notification on the number of military personnel and the totals of equipment we intend to deploy.
We will keep it this way in order to avoid misinterpretation of the Russian military activities and to prevent any crisis situations.
Bilateral agreements on preventing dangerous military activity in the vicinity of mutual borders make significant contribution to confidence-building. We already have such arrangements with the United States, Canada, China and South Korea. We look forward to concluding similar agreements with Japan and DPRK.
We are actively developing bilateral military-to-military cooperation with the Asia-Pacific nations. For example, out of almost 3000 of foreign military personnel studying in the Russian military educational establishments, we allocate more than half of the student quota to the Asia-Pacific countries.
There is a growing commitment to participation in joint military exercises. On 21 May we concluded the first stage of the Russian-Chinese NAVAL INTERACTION-2015 exercise in the Mediterranean. The second stage will commence in August in the Sea of Japan.
We are planning to hold Russian-Indian naval exercises INDRA NAVY in September and anti-terrorist drills INDRA-2015 in November. Joint naval exercises with Brunei are set to be held in 2016.
Friendly port-calls by our Navy ships in the Asia-Pacific play a significant role in promoting cooperation. In March, for example, the Russian warships visited Malaysia. We have plans for port calls in Vietnam, Singapore, India and Thailand. We are grateful to our colleagues for the hospitality extended to the Russian sailors.
Among this year's multiple international events held by the Russian Armed Forces, I would like to highlight three major ones.
First. For the fourth year in a row we are hosting in Moscow the conference on international security. This forum (16-17 of April) has become a good tradition and year after year it attracts more and more guests.
This year the conference convened over 400 representatives from 70 countries and international organizations, including the UN, OSCE, SCO and CSTO.
Moscow conference has evolved into an important forum bringing together heads of defence ministries, as well as prominent representatives of the academic community and NGOs.
Second. From 16 to 19 June this year, International Military-Technical Forum "Army-2015" will open its doors to present modern capabilities of the Russian Armed Forces, as well as prospects for their development.
Third. International Army Games will take place in August 2015 in Moscow outskirts. They will include 12 international competitions in operational training scattered across ten training ranges and the Caspian Sea.
We hope that all those who have interest in meaningful discussion of practical cooperation, in promotion of transparency and confidence-building in the military sphere, will come to Moscow and take active part in the international events under the auspices of the Russian Defence Ministry. We will be happy to see you.
Thank you for your attention.