A lot of nations are getting entangled in the South China Sea dispute as both China and the United States go against each other. Russia, a close ally of China, appears to be becoming part of the dispute as the nation weighs in on the situation and finalizes agreement with the ASEAN countries. Is the Russia the new big player in the South China Sea?
Russia will be finalizing an agreement with ASEAN countries which also covers controversial references to maritime navigation and militarization of the South China Sea, VOA Khmer reported, citing an obtained draft of the accord.
As stated in the draft of the Sochi Declaration, May 7, Russia will be pushing a “strategic partnership for mutual benefit” which also covers areas such as environmental issues, social, trade, security and health.
The agreement is also in deal with 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations. It is part of the initiative under Russian President Vladimir Putin’ to extend Moscow’s influence in the said area. The agreement also comes at at a time when President Barack Obama is set to be in Vietnam soon.
As for the South China Sea dispute, ASEAN countries have overlapping claims.
“Russian defense firms are also looking for export markets. Russia is thus an eligible partner for ASEAN states trying to diversify their great power ties in a period of waxing Chinese influence,” said John Ciorciari, a professor of public policy at the University of Michigan who specializes in Southeast Asia. The professor added that Russia’s president was also “looking for ways to regain some of its past global presence and stature.”
“Ties to major powers like India and Russia help ASEAN states boost their capabilities, enmeshes more players in the multilateral regional framework, and helps ASEAN members avoid having to pick sides in the midst of rising Sino-U.S. competition,” he added.
VOA Cambodia also adds that Russia and ASEAN countries are set to adopt the agreement by Friday.
The involved parties also came into agreement to: “Support the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and early conclusion of an effective Code of Conduct in South China Sea (COC) on the basis of consensus.”