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What’s in the conversation about Russia’s new military facility in Laos? – Diplomat


Defense of Asia | Protect | Southeast Asia

A closer look at a latest manifestation of Moscow’s growing defense presence in the Southeast Asian country.

Earlier this month, new reports appeared on a potential Russian defense facility in Laos. Although the concept of such a military facility was not meant to be new to this relationship, newer details that appeared once again highlighted an expression of a defense presence of Moscow in Southeast Asian country.

As I observed beforeLaos and Russia have long had a defense relationship spanning many fields, including military education, law enforcement cooperation and military buying and selling. But relationships have grown late with a number of key developments over the past few years, including the signing of military and technical cooperation contracts, support agreements on procurement and repair agreements. helicopters, and what is featured is the first general drills in Laros 2019.

One aspect of the security relationship between the two countries is the establishment of defense facilities. The problem at point, as I noted beforeRussian media reported in 2018 launched an agreement to open a Russian military facility, believed to be in Vientiane and include technical staff to assist Laos on defense cooperation. And in December of last year, according to the Laos Defense Ministry, the Defense Minister met with the Russian ambassador at Moscow’s embassy in Vientiane, where both sides discussed the ongoing defense work in Xieng Khouang – where The first military drills aforementioned – included the donation of a tank storage facility, an airport upgrade and the construction of a Russian defense office.

Earlier this month, we saw another manifestation of what was characterized by an active Russia-Laos defense facility. Lao officials reportedly confirmed that the Russian military had cleaned up an area that was planning to build a new airport and military facility as part of its plan to expand military aid to the Southeastern country. Asia continent.

Based on reportage by Radio Free AsiaAn unnamed Lao province official said a Russian mine clearance team worked with Lao counterparts to clear an area of ‚Äč‚Äčabout 500 hectares (1,240 acres) of unexploded ordnance (UXO) in the province. Xieng Khong of Laos since last December. to clear the way for an upgraded airport, with two zones, one for civilians and the other for the military of Laos and Russia. The report also claims that Moscow is intending to provide substantial military assistance, including training and using Russian equipment.

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This development is not surprising given earlier talk about defense facilities and Xieng Khong’s role in previous military cooperation between the two sides. However, development won’t make sense if it happens. While the forms of cooperation seem to be in line with what the two sides have said before – such as training and consulting on military equipment – the establishment of a military facility could provide Russia. a space in Laos where it can gradually build newer forms of defense cooperation that may involve other countries. In addition to Laos, it could also provide Russia with a hub in Southeast Asia for some of its defense activities, which has been surrounded by previous exaggerations. for other countries.

To be sure, there are still some uncertainties surrounding the exact location of all of these. While some work on the new airport may have begun, one of the province’s officials told RFA that the actual construction “will not begin soon” as demining may take a while. space. No specific figures, including exact number of personnel and type of reserve equipment, have been made public, although the Russia-Laos defense relationship is largely unknown in terms of transparency. Overall, due to similar Russian initiatives elsewhere in Southeast Asia – be it the defense industry facilities in Thailand or the sale of equipment to the Philippines – was hyped but then never come to fruition, there’s reason to be cautious when reading too much about these early reports.

At the same time, China’s military facilities in Cambodia, which had been privately raised for months before they actually entered the public domain, giving a warning story about the early elimination of such facilities until they started having problems. While Russia may be quite far ahead of China now Its security partnership in Southeast Asia, and Moscow and Beijing are practically competing in some areas, periodic manifestations of Russian defense cooperation with individual nations however offer a reminder that this is still a Ongoing development deserves continued attention.

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