Off the coast of Indonesia, Russia and ASEAN conduct their maiden naval drills

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According to Indonesia’s military, the first-ever joint naval drill between Russia and several Southeast Asian countries began on Wednesday (Dec 1) along the Strait of Malacca, one of the world’s busiest maritime channels. The drills occur when tensions in the Pacific are rising, especially in the South China Sea, which Beijing claims nearly entirely.
The drills on Wednesday were attended by all ten countries of ASEAN, Southeast Asia’s regional union.
Warships or planes were contributed by Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Brunei, with the Philippines serving as a virtual observer. The military exercises will go on through Saturday.
In a statement, Russia’s ambassador to the EU, Alexander Ivanov, stated, “This exercise is about peace, stability, and development in the area.”
According to Indonesian first fleet commander Arsyad Abdullah, the training would “increase the interoperability and understanding between the Russian and Asean force.” According to one observer, the exercise would highlight the ASEAN bloc’s policy of non-alignment, which is particularly crucial given regional concerns.
“It’s vital for us to preserve the balance of power in our region and to stress that this is a non-aligned zone,” said Dr Connie Rahakundini Bakrie of Indonesia’s Institute of Defence and Security Studies. The group has previously undertaken drills with the US and Chinese fleets, and in August, Indonesia and the US staged Garuda Shield, their largest-ever annual military exercise.

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