The United States has successfully compelled Indonesia from acquiring Russian Su-35 fighter jets and Chinese naval vessels, part of its effort to counter its top rivals from dismantling the US’s defence supremacy.
Indonesia has decided against procuring eleven Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets for about $1.1 billion, according to reports. Earlier the US reportedly pressed Jakarta to cancel talks with China to procure several naval patrol vessels worth about $200 million.
The move to cancel the deal with China and Russia came after US officials made it clear Indonesia could face punitive sanctions for dealing with Moscow. Critics talking to the EurAsian Times states that this move demonstrates how Washington is using its financial and economic clout in pressurizing sovereign nations from dealing with Russia and China.
The US had earlier pressed India and Turkey to cancel a deal with Russia over the purchase of S-400 missiles. Both the nations, however, did not succumb to the US pressure. Washington later kicked Turkey out from F-35 program and offered to deliver Patriot missiles only if Turkey returns the S-400s back to Russia.
Under a barter deal announced in August 2017, Indonesia was to acquire the 11 Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets in exchange for Russia buying goods such as rubber, crude palm oil, coffee, tea, furniture and spices. The agreement was eventually signed by former Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu in February 2018.
“It is not a secret that Washington exerts immense pressure on sovereign nations who intend to purchase Russian defence equipment,” Lyudmila Vorobieva, Russia’s ambassador to Indonesia, said in a statement provided via text message. “The aim is clear — to make these countries refuse to get arms from Russia. Of course, it is unfair competition that violates rules and norms of transparent and legitimate business.”
The decision to cancel the deal was made after Indonesian officials analysed that it would be an economical suicide to rub the US on the wrong side. Indonesia’s Minister of Finance Sri Mulyani Indrawati and Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi decided it would be dangerous to risk the trade relationship with the US, noted the experts.
Senior members of Widodo’s administration have expressed apprehensions that Washington would target Indonesia over its trade surplus with the US, which amounted to about $10.7 billion in 2018, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.