Last week, Indonesia’s military chief visited the United States, during which the Pentagon published a press release attributed to Jakarta that criticized Moscow and Beijing. However, Indonesia’s Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto has denied issuing any shared statements with his US counterpart and stressed that the US statement did not reflect his country’s positions.
Speaking to reporters, Subianto emphasized that Indonesia seeks friendly relations with both Russia and China and that their relationship with China is very good, with mutual understanding and respect. He further stated that Indonesia is also seeking friendship with Russia. Subianto announced plans to visit Beijing and Moscow in the coming months, indicating Indonesia’s intention to act as a bridge between the rival states.
It is worth noting that while the Pentagon’s press release claimed a joint statement between the US and Indonesia, the Indonesian Defense Ministry made no mention of any joint statement with Washington in their communication about Subianto’s meetings with Pentagon head Lloyd Austin. The ministry also did not offer any comments about Russia or China.
The Chinese embassy in Jakarta quickly responded to the American statement, asserting that the remarks had not been approved by Indonesian officials beforehand. They stated that no such content could be found in the press release by the Indonesian side at the same meeting. The embassy criticized the US for attempting to sow discord and stir up trouble.
During Subianto’s visit to the US, both countries agreed to boost military cooperation, including joint war games and additional US weapons sales. The Pentagon also pledged to assist Indonesia’s military modernization drive by proposing fighter aircraft upgrades, new multi-role fighter aircraft, and additional fixed and rotary-wing transport aircraft, among other gear.
Highlighting the strengthening military ties, Indonesia recently signed a deal to purchase 24 Sikorsky S-70M Black Hawk transport helicopters from US arms giant Lockheed Martin. This agreement followed another major contract with Boeing for two dozen F-15 fighter jets. The Indonesian government aims to revamp its air fleet, which currently operates systems from different countries, including both US- and Russian-made fighter jets.
In conclusion, Indonesia’s military chief has denied the existence of any joint statements with the US during his visit to Washington. He emphasized Indonesia’s non-aligned status and its intention to maintain friendly relations with all countries, including Russia and China. The Pentagon’s press release, which criticized Moscow and Beijing, did not align with Indonesia’s stated positions. The visit also marked an increase in military cooperation between Indonesia and the US, with agreements on joint war games and weapons sales.