DPG Indo-Pacific Monitor

Indo Pacific Monitor

Date: October 01, 2022
World leaders gathered in New York from September 20–26 for the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly and its annual high-level debate, providing people around the globe a window into how they perceive the world situation and their priorities in dealing with its myriad problems.  The sharp divergence between the views and priorities of the West, Russia, China and the Global South was in evidence.  The war in Ukraine dominated the West’s agenda, with little sign of efforts to find diplomatic solutions to the conflict.  There were ritual statements about the need to act to overcome crises like climate change, terror and the variety of emerging global challenges as well as the need for UN reform, but little indication that rhetoric would lead to action that could deliver meaningful results in the foreseeable future. 

The Samarkand Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation on September 15-16 resulted in an expansion of the organisation’s footprint into the Indian Ocean.  Iran was inducted as a member from 2023; the Maldives, Bahrain, Kuwait, UAE and Myanmar became Dialogue Partners and the process for induction of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Qatar as Dialogue Partners was given the green light.  This expansion will inevitably be of concern to the West, whose dominance over the maritime world faces new challenges.

The Second India–Japan 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue took place in Tokyo on September 8.  It was marked by the announcement of Japan’s intention to fundamentally reinforce its defence capabilities through substantial enhancement of the defence budget and the possible acquisition of counter-strike capabilities.  This general direction was also reflected in Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada’s meeting with the US Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III at the Pentagon on September 14.

The Fifth Quad Ministerial Meeting took place in New York on September 23.  The ministers signed guidelines to operationalise the Quad HADR partnership, issued a joint statement on ransomware and agreed that they would meet in New Delhi in early 2023.  A trilateral meeting between the Foreign Ministers of India, France and Australia also took place on the sidelines of the UNGA, but without a joint statement or a media release.

India’s Armed Forces participated in Exercise VOSTOK 2022, held in Sergeyevski Military District, Russia in the first week of September; Exercise JIMEX 2022 in the Bay of Bengal from September 11-16; and Exercise KAKADU-2022, off Darwin, Australia from September 11-24.  India also partnered the Coalition Maritime Force in its inaugural Operation Southern Readiness, held in the Seychelles from September 24-27.  This increased international outreach reflected India’s increasing acceptance of responsibility towards maintaining peace and security in its extended neighbourhood.

Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles witnessed the commissioning of HMS Anson, the United Kingdom’s newest nuclear attack submarine on August 31.  The UK announced that it would allow Australian personnel to train on board the ship.  The visit may have also been intended to evaluate the Astute class as a possible contender for the Australian SSN project.  The selected submarine’s identity and origin will become known only by end March 2023.

The US State Department approved the sale of $ 1.1 billion worth of missiles and associated equipment to Taiwan, prompting a strong but predictable protest from China.  The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the text of the Taiwan Policy Act of 2022 and sent it to the Senate for consideration.  North Korea amended its domestic nuclear law to mandate a pre-emptive nuclear strike under certain specified conditions, effectively making its denuclearisation unlikely.  North Korea also tested three short range ballistic missiles even as the USS Ronald Reagan Strike Group began exercising with the South Korean Navy off Busan.  The French and German Air Forces demonstrated their ability to deploy rapidly to the Pacific while participating in Exercises Pitch Black and Kakadu, off Darwin. 
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In other developments, INS Vikrant was commissioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 2.  Three other warships were also launched from Indian shipyards during the month.  General Anil Chauhan assumed charge as India’s Second Chief of Defence Staff on September 30.  An Iranian warship temporarily seized two unmanned surface vessels used by the US Navy in the Red Sea on September 01, before being compelled into releasing them the next day.