Pentagon President Mark Esper called the Indo-Pacific region a "priority theater" of military operations for the United States. This is stated in a statement by the defense department, published on the eve of the minister’s trips to South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam.
"The Allied network is the main combat advantage of the United States, which is most significant in the Indo-Pacific region, which US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper called" America’s priority theater (military operations. - RT ), "the Pentagon said.
It is noted that "maintaining alliances and attracting new partners" in the region is part of the US National Defense Strategy.
“At the heart of American strategy is the idea that the US is also a Pacific power. And Esper’s trip emphasizes this, ”the Pentagon said in a statement.
They recalled that Washington considers Thailand, South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand to be its allies in the Indo-Pacific region. Among the "partners" of the American side include India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei "and many others."
At the same time, the Ministry of Defense reported that they consider Moscow and Beijing the most serious sources of potential threats in the region.
“The focus of the US National Defense Strategy is on the return of rivalry between the great powers. The most serious threats come from China and Russia, ”the website of the defense department notes.
At the same time, it is emphasized that China represents the greatest danger to Washington.
“The military strategy of the PRC is part of the country's national approach. Along with its military power, Beijing uses diplomatic paths, political influence and economic measures. The One Belt, One Way Chinese Initiative is an estimated $ 1 trillion attempt to replace the current international system, which has served the Indo-Pacific region so well since 1945, with the one in which China will play a central role, the Pentagon said in a statement.
According to Konstantin Blokhin, a leading employee of the Security Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Washington connects the “Russian and Chinese threats” with the expansion of the partnership between the United States and other countries in the region to explain its actions aimed at increasing influence in this part of the planet.
“The US sees Russia's military potential as a threat to its security, since the Russian Federation is physically capable of delivering a strike against the United States. At the same time, China is regarded as a long-term threat, since this country is already challenging Washington in the economic sphere and is a competitor to the United States, ”the source said.
At the same time, Blokhin emphasized that the term Indo-Pacific Region (ITR) was artificially created by American political technologists about five years ago and includes a number of countries in the Asia-Pacific Region (APR). The expert noted that due to the “American-centricity” of engineering and technical research, it is customary in the expert community to use the broader concept of technical and technological integration.
Note that in early November, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, in an interview with the Bangkok Post, said that the United States was trying to strengthen its influence in Southeast Asia through the concept of a “free and open Indo-Pacific region."
- Pentagon Head Mark Esper
- © Francisco Seco / Pool
Blokhin’s opinion is shared by Andrei Sidorov, head of the department of international organizations and world political processes at the Moscow State University’s faculty of world politics. According to him, the Indo-Pacific region - the concept is more political than geographical.
“Washington introduced this designation to link the United States with both East Asia and India. The same scheme was used to create the so-called North Atlantic region, which never existed in history. This was necessary in order to create a regional military-political association of NATO, ”the expert said in a conversation with RT.
“Lining the perimeter of containment”
According to analysts, Washington has recently made many attempts to “expand the number of closest allies” in engineering. So, Esper in August made a similar tour in East Asia.
Then the head of the Pentagon visited Mongolia and met with the Minister of Defense of the Republic of Nyamaagiin Enkhbold. The parties discussed “common values for the United States and Mongolia,” and Esper said the United States is proud of its status as an important partner of Mongolia and will work with this state “to strengthen relations and achieve its goals.”
After this, Esper went to South Korea, where, following a visit to Seoul, said the two states would "continue to stick together to support the concept of a free and open Indo-Pacific region."
As part of the tour, Esper also traveled to Australia. On the eve of that trip, the head of the Pentagon called for the early deployment of land-based medium-range missiles in Asia. Esper voiced this initiative after the announcement of the US withdrawing from the INF Treaty.
Already at the end of August, the Pentagon’s Defense and Security Cooperation Agency announced that the State Department approved the sale of 73 missile defense missiles to Japan for $ 3.29 billion. It was noted that this deal should strengthen US national security by increasing the defense capability of the “major ally” in the Asia-Pacific region.
In September, the White House extended a bilateral military cooperation agreement with Singapore. The document will be valid until 2035 and suggests that Washington can use Singapore military bases for its own purposes.
In addition, the American side is building up a military partnership with India. So, on October 13, in the United States, joint exercises of the American and Indian special forces “Vajra Prahar” began.
- Joint exercises of the American and Indian special forces "Vajra Prahar"
- © US Army Special Forces Command (Airborne)
According to Andrei Sidorov, the United States, while increasing military cooperation with countries such as Japan, Singapore, Mongolia and India, is gradually “building a containment perimeter” around Russia and China.
“The emphasis is on the Asian part of the Asia-Pacific region and on India as an outpost in the south, which has always had difficult relations with Beijing. This is a geostrategic reformatting of space, an Indo-Pacific concept that allows the United States to control the processes taking place in the most key region of the world for the development of the world economy and politics, ”the expert said.
Sidorov also believes that in recent years the American side has deliberately concentrated its forces in the Pacific region.
“However, if Washington places medium-range missiles there, as Esper suggested, then they will create a direct threat to China and Russia, and, accordingly, Moscow will be forced to respond to this step,” the analyst emphasized.
According to Sidorov, the American geopolitical strategy involves betting on cooperation with the coastal states of the region, including the military. The expert noted that in this way the United States seeks to prevent China’s leadership in the Asia-Pacific region.
“The United States wants to replay China, and for this they need all the infrastructural paths that China intends to create as part of the One Belt - One Path initiative, leading nowhere, that is, to regions controlled by Washington,” the analyst explained.
In turn, Konstantin Blokhin believes that Washington at this stage is fighting for allies in the Asia-Pacific region and is trying to "impose China on all sides."
“The main bet will be placed on countries that are already associated with the US by military-political alliances, including Japan, South Korea, Australia and India. Thailand is also pro-American, there are military bases in the United States, ”the expert said.
- NATO Headquarters in Brussels
- © Yves Herman
According to analysts, with its statements and actions to strengthen influence in the Indo-Pacific region and accusations against Russia and China, Washington is only pushing Moscow and Beijing towards a stronger alliance and expanding a mutually beneficial partnership.
Recall that in early August, during his visit to Australia, Mark Esper said that the United States did not support the desire of China to dominate the Indo-Pacific region.
Beijing, for its part, sharply criticized the initiative of the US Secretary of Defense to deploy medium- and shorter-range missiles in the Asia-Pacific region. This was stated by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during a speech at the UN General Assembly.
The Russian side also condemned the United States plan to deploy these weapons. On September 19, Vladimir Putin sent a number of countries, including NATO member states, a proposal proposing a moratorium on the installation of missiles within the INF Treaty in Europe and other regions.
The message of the Russian leader was then reacted in China, Germany, France, the EU and Turkey.
According to Konstantin Blokhin, purely economically, the United States will lose competition in Asia to China, which today very quickly fills empty niches and crowds out Washington.
“Therefore, the only way for the White House to somehow compensate for this failure is to increase military cooperation with other countries in the region,” the analyst said.
At the same time, Washington seeks to destroy the partnership between Russia and China, Blokhin notes, but its actions to militarize the Indo-Pacific region only reinforce the allied relations between Russia and China.
“At this stage, Moscow is already helping Beijing to create a warning system about missile launches, which indicates a high level of interaction between the parties,” the expert said.
Despite this, Blokhin did not rule out the possibility that Washington would nevertheless succeed in deploying shorter and medium-range missiles in Asia.
“The level of militarization in the region will increase. At the same time, the competition in the Asia-Pacific region and the technical and engineering field will become super-tough and uncompromising, because the military-political center of the world will be located there, ”the analyst concluded.
- Foreign Minister Wang Yi during a speech at the UN General Assembly
- © Brendan Mcdermid