In addition to their growing energy and renewed arms trade, another sign of the strengthening Russia-China relationship was their recently concluded bilateral naval exercise. The drills were larger and more sophisticated than those held last year. But they are still far from establishing a Russia-China capacity for joint maritime combat operations, which does not appear a goal of either government in any case. The active phase of the maneuvers took place July 8-10 in the waters off of Vladivostok. Twelve Russian vessels from the Pacific Fleet participated in this year’s drill, compared to seven warships and support craft in 2012. […]

Meeting in Bremerhaven, Germany, last week, the group of nations charged with regulating Antarctic fishing failed to reach agreement on the establishment of marine protected areas due to Russian objections to the legality of the group’s mandate. In an email interview, Julia Jabour, leader of the Ocean and Antarctic Governance Research Program at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of Tasmania, explained the process leading up to the talks and what the failure of talks means for Antarctic marine protection. WPR: What was the process that led to the talks last week in Bremerhaven? Julia Jabour: […]

Given the recent prominence in international affairs of seemingly intractable disputes over maritime rights—from the South China Sea to the Arctic to the Eastern Mediterranean—it appears to be an opportune time for a 21st-century version of Otto von Bismarck, the “honest broker,” to convene the next great set of international conferences to settle some of today’s stand-offs. Moreover, since some of the most dangerous flashpoints that could bring major powers to the brink of war, particularly in the Western Pacific, are quite literally little more than rocks, someone with a Bismarckian sense of perspective is sorely needed. After all, as […]

Prior to 1992, Philippine-U.S. security relations were framed by several bilateral defense arrangements. The two countries became formal allies in 1951 upon signing the Philippines-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty. Both countries also became members of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization in 1956. However, the most important of these bilateral defense arrangements predated the collective defense treaties binding the two countries: the 1947 Philippines-U.S. Military Bases Agreement, which facilitated the hosting of major American naval and air facilities in Philippine territory. The U.S. military bases in the Philippines, including the Subic Bay Naval Base and Clark Air Base, extended vital logistical support […]

Maritime crime and disorder have plagued the Gulf of Guinea for decades, as weak and corrupt maritime security regimes emboldened thieves, smugglers and traffickers to exploit the littoral realm. The bountiful vessels serving Nigeria’s oil fields have presented a particular brand of pirates with a lucrative array of targets. With piracy no longer confined to Nigerian waters, however, West and Central African states have now recognized piracy as a regional crisis, as highlighted by a June 24-25 summit in Yaounde, Cameroon, to address the issue. “No country can withstand the growing challenges individually. That is why we agreed to put […]

During the Cold War, the U.S.-Japan alliance was variously described as the cornerstone and the linchpin of U.S. Asia strategy, but over the past decade the role of this strategic alliance has come under increasing scrutiny. New dynamics in the Asia-Pacific region have prompted a rethinking of U.S. priorities in Asia. China’s rise has called for a more complex assessment in both Tokyo and Washington of the circumstances under which the alliance might be tested. Japan’s struggle with slow economic growth and a rather unpredictable effort at political reform has made strategic adjustment difficult. Similar concerns in the United States […]

With the rapid expansion of China’s regional and global interests, it is inevitable that Beijing will increasingly utilize its armed forces, police and civilian security agencies to protect and advance those interests. This trend is readily apparent in Southeast Asia, China’s strategic backyard. But while China’s cooperative security overtures have been welcomed, the assertive use of its military and paramilitary forces in the maritime domain continues to fuel concern among its nearest neighbors. The use by China of elements of its state security apparatus in Southeast Asia last month provides a good illustration. In mid-June, the Chinese navy’s hospital ship […]

The recent announcement by the deputy commander of Russia’s Caspian fleet, Nikolai Yakubovsky, that Russia and Iran intend to hold a combined naval exercise in the Caspian Sea later this year should not have come as a surprise. Not only have the two sides engaged in such joint drills in previous years, but since the breakup of the Soviet Union, the new Russian Federation and the Islamic Republic have enjoyed a surprisingly harmonious relationship regarding regional security issues. The Iranian government has refused to intervene on behalf of the Muslim guerrillas fighting Moscow in Chechnya or in other parts of […]