FP: Saudi Arabia wants to get even and bets on Putin

 Saudi Arabia wants to get even with insulting Biden and bets on Putin

Saudi Arabia wants to get even with US President Joe Biden for his unfriendly attitude towards the country. It makes a choice in favor of Russian leader Vladimir Putin, writes the American magazine Foreign Policy.The author of the article, Anchal Vohra, drew attention to the fact that Riyadh is in no hurry to meet the requests of Washington and London to increase oil production, citing obligations under OPEC+ .

The kingdom’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud sees an opportunity to get even with US President Joe Biden for what he sees as unwarranted insults and unfriendly attitude.

In particular the crown prince is unhappy with the fact that during the election campaign Biden called Saudi Arabia a “rogue”. And as president, he released a report that refers to the involvement of Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. In addition, the Saudis believe that the White House is ignoring their concerns about the possible restoration of the Iranian nuclear deal, and also refuses to take action against the Houthis for attacks on their ships and cities.

“The Saudi Crown Prince has bet on Putin. He not only believes, but also hopes that the Republicans will win the midterm elections, and Biden will turn into a lame duck. By 2025, Mohammed bin Salman surely believes, Biden and the Democrats will lose power, and Putin will remain the president of Russia,” Treta Parsi, a professor at Georgetown University, told FP.

Eh, western “values”

Columnist Vohra concluded that in order to cooperate with Saudi Arabia to lower oil prices, the West may have to sacrifice its values. The problem is, in my opinion, that the West has no values. Just interests. That is why their allies can suddently turn into their enemies and the other way around. If their interests change then any of their allies will be sacrificed without any mercy.

“The Saudis have too much leverage to be taken into account in geopolitics and not put up with constant criticism for human rights violations,”

Biden, seizing the opportunity, should fundamentally rethink American relations with the Saudi monarchy, stop all arms sales and cancel contracts for the repair and maintenance of military equipment of this country.

The author is suggesting introducing tough sanctions against Saudi Arabia. Just like that. The country that served American interests in the Middle East is about to be declared an enemy. The country that supported the American military-industrial complex with tens of billions of dollars is about to be refused to maintain that equipment. Despite all contract having the maintenance of the equipment included.

After the “Arab Spring” Saudi Arabia began to strengthen relations with both Russia and China . The United States continued to provide support to the state, especially in the field of security. Because of this, according to FP, the Saudis had a feeling that the US needed the partnership more than they did.

FP notes that further strengthening of ties between Russia and Saudi Arabia will be a great loss for the US.

Negotiations about using Yuan for oil payments with China are happening in the background.

Indonesia picks France for its new sub ambitions

Indonesia plans to acquire France’s Scorpene-class submarines in a move away from refurbishing its old German-built boats

By GABRIEL HONRADA

Indonesia’s Navy has announced plans to acquire France’s Scorpene-class submarines. Formalizing a deal expected to jettison South Korea as Jakarta’s primary submarine technology partner.

Scorpene-class subs are jointly built by French shipbuilder Naval Group and Spain’s Navantia. It feature a modular design that can carry a large payload at reduced manning and lifecycle costs.

The diesel-propelled boats measure 66 meters to 82 meters in length. They displace 2,000 tons, carry a crew of 25 to 31 members and feature the SUBTICS Combat Management System.

On February 10, Indonesia’s PT PAL and France’s Naval Group signed a preliminary agreement to collaborate on the construction of two Scorpene submarines and to establish a joint research and development facility in Indonesia.

Both sides aim to finalize a contract by mid-2022 to facilitate the integration of weapons and systems onboard the submarines and the provision of training for operation, construction and sustainment with technology transfer in mind.

The Indonesian Cakra class submarine KRI Nanggala 402 docking at the naval base in Surabaya before its April 2021 disaster. Photo: Handout / Indonesia Military / AFP

The contract may also provide a lead-in for the construction of two more Scorpene subs in Indonesia

That’s likely bad news for Seoul. On February 21, South Korea’s Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Kim Jung-soo opened the sensitive topic of Indonesia’s order for a second batch of submarines from Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME).

The project to deliver three DSME subs to Indonesia has been in limbo for three years. Indonesia has refused to make the down payment necessary for deliveries to officially begin.

Indonesia is apparently considering canceling the contract in order to reduce defense expenditures amid expectations of shrinking budgets in coming years. The 2021 loss of the KRI Nanggala submarine may have served as an impetus for Indonesia to acquire new-build subs over refurbishing their older German-built, South Korean-refurbished Type 209 units.

 

Preserving strategic independence

France has sold Scorpene subs and Rafale jets to India, and has sold Rafales to Indonesia as well. These arms sales may reflect converging interests between these three countries.

Both France and India harbor fears of becoming subordinate partners within a US-led security architecture. Indonesia has long maintained an independent foreign policy. It has built its defense capabilities without becoming overly reliant on one source.

As such, Indonesia’s purchase of Scorpene subs and Rafale jets may form yet another concrete focal point in an emerging trilateral defense relationship between Indonesia, France and India.

These countries all share democratic principles. Yet they are keen on preserving their strategic independence and national interests without being overly reliant on the US.

UAE’s China Jets Purchase Shows US Relations in ‘Crisis’

China has stepped in to supply the emirate with combat aircraft after a $23bn deal with the US fell through over a row about tech espionage protections

When Iranian-made Houthi missiles and drones hit the international airport in Abu Dhabi in January. It proved to be a wake-up call.

The United Arab Emirates, a federation that prides itself on being safe and business-friendly, was suddenly vulnerable to outside attacks.

It likely contributed to the UAE’s decision to sign a contract with China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation (CATIC) to buy 12 L-15 training and light combat aircraft. With the option for 36 additional jets.

The news was a dramatic boost for the Chinese arms industry. It may help it snare more business in the Middle East.

It is another blow for the US. The deal came hard on the heels of the collapse of the UAE’s plan to spend up to US$23.37 billion on 50 American F-35As, up to 18 MQ-9Bs, and advanced munitions.

The UAE government informed Washington by letter in December that it planned to abandon the deal, according to a December report in the Wall Street Journal.

The L-15 announcement reflects “a confidence crisis, and the US should review its calculations and mend the relations with the UAE,” Fahd Al Halabieh, a Dubai-based defence analyst told Breaking Defense.

He attributed this crisis to a series of recent political spats over many issues related to Iran, the war in Yemen and ties with China.

The UAE also ordered 80 fourth-generation multi-role Rafale fighter jets from France last year in a deal worth US$16 billion.

The UAE’s latest move is another signal that all is not well in the military relationship with the US. It is the China factor that’s the focus of concern.

US ‘Espionage’ Safeguards

The F-35 deal fell through due to concerns over stringent safeguards required by the US to protect against Chinese espionage.

The Emirati government considers security requirements demanded by the US, intended to keep sensitive military technology from Chinese hands, as unacceptable.

The value of the L-15 aircraft deal — which further advances strategic ties between the oil-rich Sheikhdom and Beijing — was not disclosed.

The wealthy Gulf country is part of the Saudi-led coalition that has been fighting the Iranian-backed Houthi militias in Yemen since 2015.

China’s L-15 advanced jet trainer made its debut at the Dubai Airshow in 2021.

The Hongdu L-15 is a two-seat, twin-engine supersonic platform built to address the demand for training pilots. It has been dubbed a “star model” by Chinese media.

L-15’s Ground Strike Capability

Developed by Hongdu Aviation Industry Group (HAIG), the L-15 designation applies to the export variant of the jet trainer. The domestic version is called JL-10.

The new design provides increased pilot safety while cutting training expenses when compared to competitors.

The aircraft has two AI-222K-25F afterburner turbofan engines. Each having a single afterburner thrust of 4200 kg, a full authority digital engine control module, and a 3,000 flight hour service life, EurAsian Times reported.

Additionally, the L-15 trainer is capable of air combat and ground strikes.

With a payload of 3,000 kg, the L-15 training aircraft has six weapon attachment points. It can also carry air-to-air missiles, air-to-surface missiles and precision-guided bombs.

With characteristics of a third-generation fighter aircraft, it has adopted the aerodynamic profile of large strakes, the structure of a blended wing body, and an advanced fly-by-wire flight control system, CGTN reported.

The L-15 attracted interest from the UAE mainly because of its technical performance. Chinese aircraft is an advanced trainer jet that is second to none in the world, Wang Ya’nan, chief editor of Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told the Global Times.

Argentina joins China’s Belt and Road Initiative

The Latin American country is seeking a way out of US and IMF ‘debt diplomacy’

Argentine President Alberto Fernandez added another event to a highly politicized Winter Olympics when he met in Beijing last week with Chinese President Xi Jinping and agreed to join China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Argentina becomes the 20th of 33 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean to sign up for the Belt & Road. An official seal on what was already an extensive and growing economic relationship.

In addition to expanding trade and investment opportunities with China, joining the Belt & Road should make it easier for Argentina to obtain funding from the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the BRICS New Development Bank.

And this should reduce its dependence on the International Monetary Fund (IMF), a top priority for Fernandez.

Prior to the February 6 meeting in Beijing, Fernandez dropped by Moscow. There he told Russian President Vladimir Putin: “I am determined that Argentina has to stop being dependent on the Fund and the United States. Here I believe that Russia has an important place.”

Coming in the midst of the Ukraine crisis, this was the first of two diplomatic slaps in the face of the US government, which is boycotting the games in Beijing. Fernandez attended the opening ceremony.

The UK had a slap of its own when China took the opportunity to support Argentina’s position on the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas). That is another story. It does underline the Global South versus Imperial North nature of the dispute.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Argentina and China. More recently, relations between the two countries have advanced considerably during and after the presidency of leftist Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who led Argentina from 2007 to 2015.

Difficult relations with the US

She had difficult relations with the US, which she blamed for Argentina’s sovereign debt default in 2014, and she put relations with China on the course they are on today, as is demonstrated by this statement from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

On April 23, 2014, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of Argentina met with Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the Pink House in Buenos Aires.

Cristina said that the Chinese government promotes reforms with keen determination, and the whole country is dedicated to the national construction with concerted efforts, by which China has scored great achievements well-known worldwide and become a model for developing countries. The Argentinian side highly values Argentina-China strategic partnership, and is willing to strongly boost political mutual trust between the two countries and to deepen cooperation in economy, trade, infrastructure, agriculture, hydroelectricity, scien-tech and other fields, so as to promote Argentina-China relations for greater development.

Wang Yi said that … China views China-Argentina relations from a strategic and long-term perspective, and stands ready to work with Argentina in maintaining high-level exchanges and deepening strategic communication.

Argentina has the reputation of being an economic basket case, but it has a fairly sophisticated economy and now runs a trade surplus, with exports exceeding imports by 23% in 2021.

Exports were led by agricultural products (35.5%), industrial manufacturing (29.1%) and primary goods (26.9%). Imports were led by intermediate products (36.9%), capital goods (18.8%) and parts and accessories for capital goods (18.1%), according to statistics from Trading Economics.

Argentina’s top three export markets are Brazil, China and the US. Its top three sources of imports are China, Brazil and the US. Total trade with China has expanded by several times in the past 20 years and is now nearly double the total trade with the US.

Significant trade is already in place

Argentina is a major exporter of soybeans and soybean-derived products, corn and beef, competing with the United States in China and other markets. Like Brazil, it offers China an alternative to dependence on the US in the middle of a long-term trade dispute and increasingly acrimonious rivalry.

Also in January, China’s Zijin Mining announced it had completed the purchase of Neo Lithium of Canada and its 3Q lithium brine project in Argentina. According to the press release, the project “is one of the largest and highest-grade projects of its kind in the world. The property is the fifth-largest lithium brine project in the world, and ranks among the top three in terms of grades.”

The Canadian government approved the deal without a security review and “the project has been approved by the Environmental and Mining Authority in Catamarca Province, Argentina.”  

Canadian conservatives and American China-bashers were outraged. Florida Congressman Michael Waltz, a Republican member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, said:

Was the Biden administration notified and, if it was, why did it green-light this acquisition? And if it wasn’t, why wasn’t it in accordance with the agreement [the Canada-US Joint Action Plan on Critical Minerals]? Obviously, we’re NATO allies. We, I think, have a common view of the Chinese Communist Party as an increasingly dangerous and threatening adversary.

5G rollout with Huawei and Nokia

In addition to that, Telecom Argentina began to roll out 5G telecom services last year in partnership with Huawei and Nokia.

The Americans didn’t like that either. But what more attractive alternative to any Chinese project in Argentina have they offered?

On the other hand, the United States is closely identified with the IMF, which is not popular in Argentina. Here’s how Fernandez explained it to Putin:

Argentina has experienced a very special situation as a result of its indebtedness and the economic situation that I inherited. From the 1990s onwards [actually since the Latin American debt crisis of 1982], Argentina has looked to the United States, and the Argentine economy depends a great deal on the IMF debt and the US influence in the Fund …  In 2015 we had a government that once again turned its gaze to the United States and generated the tremendous debt we have.

Not a word about financial irresponsibility

Not a word about financial irresponsibility and the workings of Argentine democracy, but that is not the point.

The final sentence of Fernandez’s comment refers to Mauricio Macri, the center-right businessman and politician who succeeded Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner in the presidency in 2015 and served until 2019.

Macri repaired relations with the US and liberalized the economy. And when a severe drought crippled the agricultural sector, inflation ran out of control and the government could not meet its obligations, he turned to the IMF.

That led to an even worse disaster.

On December 22, 2021, the IMF published the following press release and staff report: Argentina: Ex-Post Evaluation of Exceptional Access Under the 2018 Stand-By Arrangement. Its summary:

On June 20, 2018, the Executive Board approved the largest stand-by arrangement in the Fund’s history, in support of Argentina’s 2018-21 economic program. After an augmentation in October 2018, access under the arrangement amounted to US$57 billion … The program saw only four of the planned twelve reviews completed, and did not fulfil the objectives of restoring confidence in fiscal and external viability while fostering economic growth. The arrangement was canceled on July 24, 2020.

IMF Country Report No. 2021/279

The IMF defines “stand-by arrangement” as follows:

In an economic crisis, countries often need financing to help them overcome their balance of payments problems. Since its creation in June 1952, the IMF’s Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) has been the workhorse lending instrument for emerging and advanced market countries.

Unfortunately, the stand-by arrangement required fiscal and monetary austerity, which caused a recession. Argentina’s GDP dropped by 2.6% in 2018 and by another 2.1% in 2019. Then, with the onset of the pandemic, it plummeted 9.9% in 2020. Poverty increased by an estimated 50% and capital flowed out of the country.

In this situation, Fernandez headed to Moscow and Beijing to broaden his options, stirring up opposition to his leadership on the right as well.

But default has been averted, the IMF has abandoned “tough love” for what could be called constructive sympathy, and currency swaps between the Argentine and Chinese central banks have added to Argentina’s foreign currency reserves.

This should stabilize the economic situation and allow the Chinese to continue expanding their role in Argentina’s economy. They are not wasting any time.

On January 19, agreements aimed at upgrading Argentina’s railway system were signed by the Minister of Transport, the president of the national railway company and representatives of engineering contractor China Railway International Group and rolling stock maker CRRC Qindao Sifang.

German, Swedish subs better for Australian needs

New German, Swedish subs offer alternatives to Taiwan’s Indigenous Submarine Program and Australia’s nuclear ones under AUKUS

Last month Germany and Sweden, two world leaders in conventional submarine design, unveiled three models that could prove to be better strategic choices than Taiwan’s Indigenous Defense Submarine program and Australia’s plan to acquire nuclear-powered submarines under its AUKUS alliance. 

Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Maritime Systems (TKMS) in cooperation with Fincantieri of Italy started construction of the U212 Near Future Submarine (NFS) for the Italian Navy. The first U212 NFS is scheduled to be launched in 2026, with its acceptance into the Italian Navy in 2027. Work on the second unit is scheduled to start in 2029. 

The U212 NFS is a design evolution of the U212A, which first entered Italian Navy service in 2006. At present, the Italian Navy operates four U212A units. Compared with the U212A, the U212 NFS is 1.2 meters longer, has enhanced hydrodynamics and silence in a 59-meter hull, and surface displacement of 1,600 tons.

Designed to operate in tropical waters

The new class is also designed to operate in tropical waters, meaning that it is optimized for operations in the warmer southern and eastern parts of the Mediterranean off North Africa and Turkey. This also means that the design could be sold to tropical climate clients such as Taiwan and Indonesia.

The first two boats of the U212 NFS use the same Siemens hydrogen fuel cell air-independent propulsion (AIP) technology from their U212A predecessors, but introduce lithium-iron-phosphate batteries for its new energy storage and management system, which is billed to be a “game-changer” in underwater warfare. Fincantieri is also developing a new type of AIP system for the third U212 NFS.  

In terms of sensors, the U212 NFS also features a new sail mast design which can accommodate seven electrical masts with one extra space for an optional mast, allowing for future development of the class as a fully electric submarine. 

A fully electric submarine such as the SMX31E New Full Electric Concept completely eliminates any need to surface during operations, meaning it can stay submerged as long as today’s nuclear submarines, which are only limited by crew endurance and supplies.

Current AIP technologies significantly minimize but do not eliminate the need for conventional submarines to periodically surface to run their diesel engines to charge their batteries. 

The Italian Todaro class U212A submarine. Photo: Fincantieri

Other sensors include six non-penetrating electrically hoisted masts and the new generation optical penetrating attack periscope, all provided by L3Harris, low probability of intercept radar by GEM Elettronica, Link 11/16 datalinks from Leonardo and a digital sonar suite by ELAC Sonar. 

Rated to be cyber-secure

Compared with the U212A, the U212 NFS features more Italian-made technology, such as an integrated platform control system (IPCS) provided by Fincantieri Seastema, steering and diving control system by Avio Aero, and combat management system (CMS) by Leonardo.

These systems are rated to be cyber-secure by the Organization for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR), making the U212 NFS the second cyber-secure design by Fincantieri after the Thaon di Revel class offshore patrol vessel (OPV).

The class is designed with open architecture in mind, enabling easy software upgrades such as third-party software, remote computing, extensive acoustic processing know-how and submarine mission-specific applications. 

The Leonardo Black Shark Advanced (BSA) torpedo is projected to be the main armament of the U212 NFS, with the class also designed to deploy long-range cruise missiles. The U212 NFS also retains the special forces support capability of the U212A and can operate alongside unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs), which extends the surveillance capability of the class. 

Germany and Israel signed a deal for three Dakar0-class submarines from TKMS. These boats are intended to replace three of Israel’s older Dolphin class boats which entered service in the 1990s.

The deal envisions that the first of these new boats would be delivered to Israel in 2027, and includes provisions for the creation of a submarine training simulator in Israel and supply of spare parts. 

While Israel keeps the technical details of its new submarines classified, these new boats are said to be significantly more capable than the preceding Dolphin boats. The boats are said to be armed with 16 multipurpose torpedo tubes that can fire torpedoes, Turbo Popeye cruise missiles and even manned swimmer delivery systems, submersibles designed to stealthily insert special forces teams for covert underwater or amphibious operations.

Possibility of a vertical launch systems (VLS)?

Concept art of the Dakar class released by TKMS shows a much-enlarged sail, which has led to different speculation about the design’s capabilities. Speculations abound that this distinctive feature could be used to house vertical launch systems (VLS) for nuclear-tipped cruise or ballistic missiles. (Israel, of course, is tight-lipped about its alleged nuclear weapons program.) 

In comparison, South Korea’s Chang Bogo III submarine, which is based on the German U214 design, is armed with six VLS launchers for the Hyunmoo-2B ballistic missile. It is the first conventionally powered AIP submarine that is armed with such.

Sweden has also begun the construction of its A26 Blekinge class submarines. It is a follow-on design to Sweden’s Gotland boats, whose stealth capabilities were made famous in 2005 by sinking the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier during naval exercises.

The Swedish Navy has ordered two units, the HSwMS Blekinge and HSwMS Skåne, with the aft section of one boat already put in place. 

The class is built around Saab’s Ghost technology, which stands for Genuine Holistic Stealth. Ghost is a family of technologies meant to reduce the Blekinge boats’ detectable signatures.

Some of these technologies include rubberized mounts and baffles inside the submarine to reduce detectable machinery and crew noise, and careful design of all interior surfaces to minimize noise such as specific airflow speeds in air ducts, minimum bending radius on cables and pipes and the design of outboard holes and cavities.

In addition, the Blekinge class uses a new hull and fin shape to reduce hydrodynamic noise, and the boats’ mast has a unique shape to minimize radar signature. 

Extended operation time

The class features an improved version of the Stirling AIP engine fitted in the Gotland class, which is 30% smaller, yet delivers more power. The Stirling AIP engine works by heating and cooling gases in its cylinders to force pistons up and down.

In the case of the Gotland and Blekinge boats, liquid oxygen and diesel are used to heat the engine, while cold seawater is used for cooling. This technology allows the class to operate for an extended time without surfacing to recharge its batteries by running its diesel engines.  

A unique feature of the Blekinge boats is the Multi Mission Portal, which allows the launch and retrieval of diverse mission payloads, such as special forces or UUVs to extend the boats’ sensor range, which makes the class a potent underwater intelligence-gathering platform. 

Moreover, Sweden also offers the Oceanic Extended Range (XR) submarines, which are designed for navies whose capability requirements include extended missions or long-distance operations.

Notably, the Australian Collins-class was built according to this design philosophy. The Collins boats were built between 1993 to 2001, with Saab working alongside the Australian Submarine Corporation (ASC), providing technology transfer for design and construction using an advanced modular method. 

Offering more sensible alternatives to Australia and Taiwan

These new submarine designs may satisfy the submarine capability requirements of both Taiwan and Australia, offering more sensible alternatives considering the tactical, operational, strategic and political challenges they face in their respective submarine programs. 

In the case of Taiwan, it has a significant shipbuilding industry but has limited experience in building warships, and no experience in building submarines.

While countries such as Australia, Canada, India, Spain, the UK and the US are assisting Taiwan in building its own conventional submarines, this is not a guarantee of success. For instance, Australia’s Collins boats were built from the Saab Gotland class, and Australia received considerable technical assistance from Sweden and the US in this project.

However, the Collins class turned out to be plagued with various problems, which forced Australia to seek replacements.  

It may be more rational for Taiwan to harness its strengths, such as AI, software, semiconductors, electronics and the production of asymmetric weapons, which it can realistically manufacture such as torpedoes, naval mines and cruise missiles, rather than take huge risks by building its own submarines.

Also, should Taiwan persist in acquiring submarines, these subsystems can be integrated into an established, open-architecture submarine design suited for tropical operations. 

An Open Architecture design

Thus, the U212 NFS or a derivative of the class makes sense for Taiwan’s submarine capability requirements. It is an open-architecture design, as shown by the integration of Italian and US subsystems into a German hull, and is designed for tropical operations as well.

As such, Taiwanese subsystems and weapons can be fitted into this already established design. Such an arrangement fulfills Taiwan’s capability requirements for submarines and harnesses its stronger strategic sectors.  

Australia may have made a mistake in the first place in disqualifying TKMS in favor of DCNS from France, as the U214 class from TKMS has capabilities that far exceed those of the Collins class. Further, TKMS offered Australia the U216, which is a scaled-up version of the U214 built to Australian capability requirements. 

Australia initially chose to settle on the DCNS Shortfin Barracuda as a replacement for its Collins boats.

However, the deal with DCNS ran into several problems, such as finding a sensible rationale to justify retrofitting a conventional propulsion system to a hull designed for nuclear propulsion, the incompatibility of US combat systems in a French-designed hull, long development time leading to obsolescence on delivery, the failure of DCNS to invest enough in Australian suppliers and labor and cost overruns.

These factors may have led Australia to drop its deal with DCNS and make a bold move to acquire nuclear submarines with technical assistance from the US and UK under AUKUS. 

Doubts about Australia’s plan to acquire nuclear submarines

It is highly likely that Australia’s plan to acquire nuclear submarines under AUKUS will not materialize, as political considerations regarding maintaining command and control should Australia lease a US Virginia class nuclear boat, vague terms in technology, cost and labor sharing within AUKUS, opposition to nuclear power in Australia and its lack of infrastructure to support nuclear submarines play out against its plan.

That said, Australia may have compounded its mistakes in its deal with DCNS by picking an equally unfeasible solution with AUKUS for its submarine capability requirements.  

In addition, should Australia choose to lease nuclear submarines from the US, it would not be until the 2030s when an aging US nuclear boat would be available for lease, and only in the 2040s would Australian nuclear boats have any strategic effect.

This leaves a huge capability gap between the planned obsolescence of Australia’s Collins boats in 2026, and before its planned nuclear submarines become fully operational in the 2040s.

By then, the geopolitical situation and China’s naval capabilities may have vastly changed. Australia’s only feasible choice to maintain its underwater warfare capabilities is to acquire conventional submarines to fill this capability gap. 

However, with the capabilities of today’s conventional submarines approaching those of their nuclear counterparts, perhaps Australia’s quest for nuclear submarines was an unnecessary venture in the first place. 

Considering Australia’s bad experiences with its Saab-built Collins boats and its deal with DCNS, it may well do for it to revisit talks with TKMS to acquire new conventional submarines that fulfill its capability requirements. 

Russia opens doors for Iran’s Eurasian integration

The January meeting between Raisi and Putin may have seemed disappointing, but now Russia is opening the door for Iran’s Eurasian integration.

On January 20, Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi traveled to Moscow to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. The purpose of developing bilateral relations between the two countries at the highest level.

Among the topics for discussion by the two leaders were their common regional and international issues. As well as the Vienna talks on Iran’s nuclear program, and regional cooperation in Eurasia.

Contrary to expectations and positive statements made before the meeting, the visit did not end with the announcement of a grand strategic agreement. Unlike the one between China and Iran a year ago.

However, the visit brought the negotiations between the two sides to a higher level and promoted Iran’s economic integration into the Russian-Chinese Eurasian architecture.

Big hopes, not grandiose announcements

In recent years, both improving relations between Tehran and Moscow and focusing on strategic partnership have become particularly important tasks for Iran.

Additionaly to working to build up trade and economic ties, which is a priority for Iran, which is under sanctions, an additional impetus may be given to the development of military-political cooperation in the future.

October 2021 – Interfax, citing Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian, announced that Tehran was ready to establish a strategic partnership with Moscow and that both sides were expected to sign documents on an agreement in the coming months.

According to the agencyTASS , both sides were close to completing work on a document on comprehensive cooperation for a period of 20 years.

Timing is important for both countries. Mojtaba Zulnur, chairman of Iran’s parliamentary committee on national security and foreign policy, told Mehr news agency that in order to overcome US sanctions, Iran seeks to conclude a partnership agreement with Russia. Similar to the agreement between Tehran and Beijing.

However, contrary to expectations and some statements made prior to the Iranian leader’s trip to Russia, the visit of President Raisi, at least for the moment,did not lead to a major breakthrough on this front. This process may take some time and may, at least for Moscow, be related to the outcome of negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program.

However, two recent events involving Russia and Iran have had significant resonance. First, the joint Russian-Chinese-Iranian naval exercises in the Indian Ocean. Second, Iran’s relationship with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) along with the implementation of the North-South International Transport Corridor (ITC).

Will Iran join the EAEU in the near future?

Iranian political analyst and former editor-in-chief of the Fars news agency Mostafa Khoscheshm instead says that Russia appears to be pushing for Iran to join the EEU. “Negotiations,” he says, “are already underway . “

In 2019, the Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA), signed between Iran and the EAEU in 2018, came into force.

The agreement provided for lower tariffs on 862 types of goods. 502 of them were Iranian exports to the EAEU. As a result, trade increased by more than 84 percent between October 2019 and October 2020.

According toVali Kaleji , an Iranian expert on Central Asia and Caucasian studies, this trade volume was achieved at a time when the US under former President Donald Trump withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May 2018 and followed a policy of “maximum pressure” against Iran .

In October 2021, Iran and the EAEU started negotiations on the transformation of the SPT intoFree Trade Agreement (FTA). If this is achieved, it will lead to a significant increase in the volume of trade between Iran and the EAEU, also known as the Union.

Both Moscow and Tehran have reasons to insist on further integration of Iran into the Union.

Both sides have reasons to support further integration

For Iran, this opportunity will provide improved access to Eurasian and European markets. It will also provide EAEU member states with greater access to the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea. For this reason, Moscow may be thinking one step ahead.

Moscow views the signing of an FTA agreement with Iran as a decisive step for Iran’s accession to the Union.

Russia has concerns that if Iran reaches an agreement with the US on its nuclear issue, there could be positive shifts in Iranian policy towards the West. This may not serve Russian interests in Western Asia, especially in Syria.

For Russia, a nuclear Iran is preferable to a pro-Western one. For this reason, Russia would be happy to accelerate the integration of Iran into the Eurasian regional institutions.

Iran’s entry into the nine-member Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) should be viewed from this perspective. Moreover, with the accession of Tehran to the EAEU, neighboring and friendly countries such as Iraq and Syria may follow.

On December 27, 2021, Iran and Iraq agreed to build railroad linking the two countries. The 30-kilometer railway will be strategically important for Iran. It will connect the country to the Mediterranean Sea via the Iraqi and Syrian railways.

It would be a win-win situation for both China and Russia. The situation in which China, as part of its Belt and Road Initiative, and Russia, as part of itsThe North-South International Transport Corridor would have direct rail access to the Mediterranean.

Preventing Turkey access to the Caspian Sea

This route will also compete with India’s Arab-Mediterranean Corridor. One that is connecting India to the Israeli port of Haifa via various UAE, Saudi Arabian and Jordanian railways.

Thus, for China and Russia, strengthening the geopolitical and geo-economic position of Iran in the region is an important step. From Russia’s perspective, having a direct land route through the Levant to the Mediterranean would bolster its strong base in Syria.

It is for this reason that Iran acted prudently in response to the recent Azerbaijani provocations on the border with Armenia. Tehran feared that Turkey would gain direct access to the Caspian Sea and Central Asia through a possible “corridor” from southern Armenia.

For Iran, this would be tantamount to expanding NATO into the Caspian Sea and further towards China. Consequently, the west-east trade route would pose a serious threat to Iran and Russia and isolate them in Eurasia.

According to Khoscheshm, “The hostility from the Western bloc has brought Iran and Eurasia closer to each other, and this has given the Russians and Chinese a strong motivation to accelerate Iran’s entry into the Eurasian bloc in order to strengthen joint economic and geopolitical cooperation and prevent US infiltration into the region.”

Thus, Iran’s accession to the EAEU is a win-win situation for both Moscow and Tehran. Russia would strengthen its geo-economic and geopolitical position in the Middle East, while Iran would have rail links with Russia and Europe and further expand Moscow’s influence in the region.

However, this ultimate goal may still take time to achieve and will face challenges from the US and its allies in the region.

Confidence in the face of uncertainty

The possible entry of Iran into the EAEU will attract investment from neighboring countries in the underdeveloped rail link between Iran and Russia in the Caucasus region.

The opening of communication channels between Armenia and Azerbaijan as part of a tripartite statement dated November 9 will facilitate trade and cargo transportation in the region within the North-South transport corridor.

Under such conditions, the rail network is very important, since the volume of goods transported by rail is much larger and faster than by land and road routes. However, the implementation of these projects is not yet certain.

The state-owned Russian railways halted their projects in Iran in April 2020 due to concerns about US sanctions. Such a decision would have an impact on other programs within the framework of the Russian-Iranian initiative to create a North-South transport corridor.

Both sides will have to wait to overcome US sanctions, as economic routes are always a win-win situation.

By joining the EAEU and integrating into the Eurasian regional organizations, Iran would strengthen its geo-economic position as a regional transport hub, opening the West Asian gate for Moscow’s railway access to the Eastern Mediterranean.

Russia and China oil supplies through Kazakhstan

Russia and China signed an agreement on oil supplies through the territory of Kazakhstan for 10 years. This became known as a result of the visit of the Russian delegation headed by President Vladimir Putin to Beijing. Rosneft revealed the details of the new agreement.

Rosneft and the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) have signed an agreement on the supply of oil to Chinese refineries through the territory of Kazakhstan. It will be valid for 10 years. The press service of Rosneft reported on the results of the visit of a Russian delegation led by President Vladimir Putin to Beijing on Friday.

It is specified that 100 million tons of Russian oil will be sent to refineries located in the northwestern part of China. Also during the visit, agreements were signed in the field of low-carbon development, digitalization and technological cooperation.

Rosneft’s total oil supplies to China since 2005 amounted to 442 million tons of oil. The company occupies a leading position among oil exporters to China. It is annually providing 7% of the country’s total demand for raw materials.

Russia and Mongolia moved on to the stage of designing the Soyuz Vostok gas pipeline to China. It is planned that its capacity will be up to 50 billion cubic meters of gas per year. The gas pipeline will pass through the territory of Mongolia. It will become a continuation of the Russian gas pipeline “Power of Siberia – 2”


China and Russia will strengthen integration cooperation in Eurasia

The leaders of Russia and China intend to intensify integration cooperation in Eurasia. According to a joint statement by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, published by the Kremlin press service on February 4. Moscow and Beijing have coordinated their positions on foreign policy issues.

Work on linking the development plans of the Eurasian Economic Union and the One Belt, One Road initiative is planned to be strengthened. It is noted that this is necessary to deepen practical cooperation between the EAEU and China, as well as to increase the level of interconnectedness between the Asia-Pacific and Eurasian regions.

“The parties confirm their focus on the parallel and coordinated formation of the Greater Eurasian Partnership and the construction of the Belt and Road in the interests of developing regional associations, bilateral and multilateral integration processes for the benefit of the peoples of the Eurasian continent,” the text says.

The statement also notes that Beijing  treats with understanding and supports” the proposals put forward by Moscow on the formation of long-term legally binding security guarantees in Europe. 

International Law rather than “certain rules developed in a closed circle”

Russia and China intend to jointly oppose attempts to replace international law with “certain rules developed in a “close circle” by individual countries or blocs of countries. “Putin and Jinping also stressed that countries are unanimous in understanding that “democracy is a universal human value, and not the privilege of individual states”. Therefore, attempts by “individual states to impose their” democratic standards on other countries … in fact, represent an example of trampling on democracy and retreat from its spirit and true values.

On the eve of the visit to Beijing for the opening of the Olympic Games, Putin published an article “Russia and China: A Strategic Partnership for the Future”. In that article he stated that Russian-Chinese relations have reached an unprecedented level of “comprehensive partnership and strategic interaction.” He emphasized that the foreign policy coordination of Russia and China is based on close, coinciding approaches to solving global and regional problems.