By MATTHEW LEE, AP Diplomatic Writer
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) – After issuing another stern warning to Russia over Ukraine, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Indonesia on Monday to find a senior aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin already in Jakarta for security interviews.
Just a day after joining fellow Group of Seven foreign ministers in bluntly calling on Russia to pull out of a military escalation near the Ukrainian border, Blinken began a 48-hour visit to Indonesia with his plane. hovering in the shadow of that of Putin’s national security adviser, Nikolay Patrushev. Patrushev is considered the third highest official in the Russian government.
Shortly before Blinken’s landing, the Russian Embassy in Jakarta announced Patrushev’s visit, saying he would be in the Indonesian capital for the same two days as America’s top diplomat. The timing means Patrushev’s meetings will coincide with a major speech Blinken plans to deliver on Tuesday on the Biden administration’s Indo-Pacific strategy.
There was no indication that the two could meet in Jakarta. There is also no indication that one would recognize the other’s presence in Indonesia, which is the seat of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and a key player in regional security.
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Blinken met with Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Monday afternoon ahead of a full list of events on Tuesday, including the speech. The Russian embassy said Patrushev’s main interlocutor in Indonesia would be Legal and Security Minister Mohammad Mahfud.
Blinken traveled to Jakarta after a meeting of Group of Seven foreign ministers in Liverpool, England, in which he and his counterparts on Sunday called on Russia to “defuse” its military build-up near the border Ukrainian.
The G-7 called on Russia to “defuse the escalation, pursue diplomatic channels and respect its international commitments on the transparency of military activities”, and praised Ukraine’s “restraint”.
The ministers warned in a joint statement that any “use of force to change borders is strictly prohibited under international law. Russia should not doubt that a new military aggression against Ukraine would have massive consequences and a high cost in response. “
The statement came after President Joe Biden spoke with Putin on a video call last week and said he made it clear that a Russian invasion of Ukraine would have “devastating” consequences for the Russian economy.
Moscow denies that it intends to attack Ukraine and accuses Kiev of its own allegedly aggressive designs.
Ahead of Blinken’s current trip, which, at eight days, will be his longest overseas trip since taking office, State Department officials had said they expected his attention to shift from challenges posed by Russia to those posed by China as it left the G7 meeting in Liverpool. across the world to Southeast Asia.
It was not immediately clear whether Patrushev’s presence in Indonesia would change that. In Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, Blinken aims to highlight the importance of ensuring freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, which many of China’s neighbors have accused Beijing of encroaching on.
Blinken also plans to voice deep U.S. concerns over developments in Myanmar, where a military junta took power shortly after the Biden administration took office. Last week, a Myanmar court sentenced democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was ousted in a de facto coup in February, on two counts. The procedure has been widely criticized as a further effort by the country’s military rulers to roll back the democratic gains of recent years.
While Blinken is visiting Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok, Patrushev will be in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. One of Blinken’s main collaborators, State Department Advisor Derek Chollet was in Cambodia last week after the United States imposed an arms embargo on the country, citing the worsening of the Chinese military influence, corruption and human rights violations.
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