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MANILA – For the first time, Indian Navy Kilo-class conventional submarine INS Sindhu Kesari docked in Jakarta, Indonesia from 22-24 February.

While it is common for Indian warships to visit Indonesia, the timing, scope and nature of the visit are contextualized based on the overarching geopolitical dynamics of the Indo-Pacific and are the key to such bilateral partnerships. We need to better understand and understand what strategic engagement means.

India and Indonesia are located at a key crossroads in the Indo-Pacific due to their geographical context. The southernmost tip of India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands lies at the geopolitical junction between South and Southeast Asia, just 90 nautical miles from Indonesia.

This important intersection is also home to an important Sea Line of Communications (SLOC) and marine chokepoint that serves as the economic lifeline of the region.

Indonesia and India are therefore important maritime powers and can be considered the de facto gatekeepers of the region, transit points for an estimated 60% of global maritime trade.

Given such strategic stakes, expanding and deepening bilateral partnerships between the two countries to address the turbulent geopolitical and economic changes occurring in the region today is a key focus of the Indo-Pacific. It is beneficial to both countries.

Clearly, today’s Indonesia-India strategic partnership continues to improve significantly in scope as well as depth. However, it is not only material forces and geographical objective realities that bring the two countries closer together, but also the increasing convergence of perceptions, concerns and goals between New Delhi and Jakarta. Increases the level of cooperation.

Returning to the maiden docking of the INS Sindhu Kesari in Indonesia, we must emphasize its implications beyond face value.

Submarines are a key component of naval sea power and are known for their ability to effectively contribute to a country’s sea superiority, sea superiority, and naval power projection capabilities. Such a gesture thus marks Indonesia’s growing adaptation to the Indian Navy’s expanded operational reach into the Western Pacific.

More than 20 years ago, Jakarta was wary of India’s growing naval capabilities brought about by a lack of awareness and understanding between the two countries.

Today, there is a growing commitment to strengthen bilateral partnerships, especially in maritime security cooperation across the Indo-Pacific.

In 2018, the two countries strengthened their ties into a comprehensive strategic partnership and announced a new bilateral naval exercise called Samudera Shakti, which incorporates a combat element into the bilateral strategic partnership. is also considering developing formidable maritime connections along India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Indonesia’s Aceh Island.

Indonesia and India share a similar vision of an inclusive, rules-based and stable Indo-Pacific. As Jakarta currently holds the chair of ASEAN, it seeks to illustrate its leadership role by navigating the bloc through the turbulent regional situation brought on by the intensifying power struggle between the US and China. .

As a leading middle-powered country in Asia and a pragmatic leader, Indonesia puts the practical realities of geopolitics at the heart of its foreign policy. Recognizing the security threat posed by China’s rise, Indonesia continues to spearhead its military modernization program while improving deterrence.

Along with taking proactive policies to secure its exclusive economic zone, Indonesia has also improved its defense ties with the United States and other major European powers.

However, due to its practicality, Indonesia emphasizes the need to address the challenges posed by China. This is to avoid pushing Southeast Asian countries into a power struggle between the United States and China.

Trying to cut off our largest neighbor by relying on the West is not a recommended policy decision as it can create instability. Therefore, we need to take positive steps to reflect the objectivity of the region’s unstable geopolitics.

In this context, India will play a role as an important partner. India and Indonesia are the largest and her third largest democracies respectively. Both strongly support flexible cooperation based on respect for mutual concerns, interests, goals and sensitivities rather than rigid bloc politics.

India, an Indo-Pacific powerhouse with strong material capabilities and no ax in Southeast Asia, should complement Indonesia’s desire to secure the region beyond the traditional U.S.-China prism. I can.

Indeed, given that both countries have a clear and direct understanding of China’s claims, the security implications of Jakarta and New Delhi as they strive to play a greater role as capacity builders beyond India. Further maximizing the relationship will be very beneficial for both Jakarta and New Delhi. marine area.

Moreover, strengthening India-Indonesia security ties could act as a catalyst for incorporating other regional countries into the framework of cooperation.

Therefore, it remains likely that the major trilateral between Indonesia and India will operate effectively, along with other major Indo-Pacific powers such as Australia, Japan and France.

Moreover, given India’s role in major multilateral institutions such as the BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and international conferences, as Indonesia seeks to play a more prominent role in the Global South, relations with India should be strengthened. – Action and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA).

Indeed, Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indwati underscored Jakarta’s intention to deepen and expand its strategic ties with India to further contribute towards the Global South.

Given the uncertain future of the geopolitical makeup of the Indo-Pacific, therefore, further maximizing the scope of the strategic relationship between Indonesia and India is an important consideration given the remaining untapped potential in bilateral partnerships. and mutually beneficial.Jakarta Post/Asia News Network

  • The author is a Philippines-based geopolitical analyst and Director of South and Southeast Asia for the Philippine Middle East Studies Association (PMESA). The paper is a member of Asia News Network, a media partner of The Straits Times, a coalition of 22 news media titles. Strengthening strategic partnership between Indonesia and India will be mutually beneficial: Jakarta Post contributor

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