Russia continues to generate the top international security stories for this week. On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin justified his actions in Crimea in an impassioned speech to the Parliament (the official translation available here). Amidst a narrative of Crimea in Russian history and nationalist sentiments, Putin remarked:
In people’s hearts and minds, Crimea has always been an inseparable part of Russia. This firm conviction is based on truth and justice and was passed from generation to generation, over time, under any circumstances, despite all the dramatic changes our country went through during the entire 20th century… Naturally, we could not leave this plea unheeded; we could not abandon Crimea and its residents in distress. This would have been betrayal on our part.
Putin also takes shot at what he sees as weak international institutions and the preference of western partners led by the US to ignore international law. It’s certainly an insight into how the historical narrative is being shaped within Russia, and worth reading in full. For other views on the speech, here’s the New Yorker, The Nation and a useful Washington Post fact check.
In related news, US President Obama has announced the expansion of sanctions against Russia to include figures like Putin’s chief of staff, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel told her Parliament yesterday that the EU will impose economic sanctions as well. Merkel noted all G8 meetings have also been suspended until the political situation changes. And the fallout from Russian actions continues to reverberate across the EU, with Poland announcing it will speed up its plan for a missile defence system. Lastly, has Putin handed the Pentagon a rationale for new nuclear weapons? And here’s the British perspective.
Australia–Indonesia defence relations seem to be thawing, with a recent visit by Defence Minister David Johnston to the Jakarta International Defense Dialogue this week. Delivering a speech at the event, Minister Johnston set out his vision for bilateral ties:
Australia and Indonesia are at our best when we cooperate. Whatever the momentary fluctuations in our relationship, we will be better off if we commit to help bring out the best in each other. That is a far better legacy to leave for future generations.
Another positive sign reported by The Australian has been Indonesian Defense Vice-Minister Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin’s proposal to upgrade military exchanges at colonel and brigadier levels to major generals and lieutenant generals.
Sticking with Indonesia, the US grant of F-16 fighter jets are expected to arrive in the country in October. The aircraft—eight in the first instance—will be located in the Indonesia’s west and will boost TNI-AU’s current F-16 fleet of only one squadron based in East Java.
It’s been 11 years since US forces arrived in Iraq to dislodge Saddam Hussein from power. Gayle Tzemach Lemmon argues in this DefenseOne piece that the war has been a ‘ghost’ hanging over every American decision to act—and more importantly, not act in places such Syria. Meanwhile, check out this 2013 video of a Lowy Institute-hosted lecture by former Prime Minister John Howard (who officially opened ASPI’s new offices last night) on the tenth anniversary of the war.
Lastly, for this week’s military music video, here’s Metallica’s ‘Fuel’: US Navy style.
Natalie Sambhi is an analyst at ASPI and editor of The Strategist. Image courtesy of the Russian Presidential Press and Information Office.