WASHINGTON/TOKYO | March 3, 2022
According to the prime ministers of Japan and Australia, leaders of the Quad grouping of countries – the United States, India, Australia, and Japan – agreed on Thursday that what is happening in Ukraine should not be allowed to happen in the Indo-Pacific.
The four-country coalition convened a virtual meeting at a time when there is growing anxiety about Taiwan, a self-ruled island claimed by China that has raised its alert level since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, afraid of Beijing exploiting a distracted West to strike against it.
“In the Indo-Pacific area, unilateral alterations to the status quo with force like this should not be allowed,” stated Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, alluding to Russia’s invasion.
After meeting with US President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kishida told reporters, “We’ve also agreed that this development makes it much more necessary to strive toward establishing a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
“We cannot allow what is occurring in Ukraine to happen in the Indo-Pacific,” Morrison said after the meeting in a statement.
“We are steadfast in our commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific area in which smaller governments do not have to fear more strong states,” he continued.
The leaders met to “reaffirm their commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific, in which all states’ sovereignty and territorial integrity are respected and countries are free from military, economic, and political coercion,” according to a joint Quad statement.
The presidents “reaffirmed their commitment to the Quad as a tool to promote regional peace and development,” according to the call, which came after a meeting of their foreign ministers in Australia last month.
The presidents agreed to meet in person in Tokyo “in the coming months,” according to the statement, which made no mention of Taiwan but did say they discussed the violence and humanitarian disaster in Ukraine.
“They agreed to establish a new humanitarian assistance and disaster relief mechanism that will enable the Quad to face future humanitarian issues in the Indo-Pacific and create a route for communication as they individually discuss and respond to the Ukraine crisis,” the statement added.
“Our commitment to sovereignty and territorial integrity around the world, especially in the Indo-Pacific,” Biden tweeted after his meeting with the Quad leaders.
The Quad’s commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific was welcomed by Taiwan’s representative office in Washington. “Taiwan will continue to work for prosperity and stability in the area with all peace-loving allies,” it stated.
Modi “emphasized the importance of the Quad being focused on its primary goal of promoting peace, security, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region,” according to his office.
It was discussed, particularly the humanitarian ramifications, and Modi “emphasised the need to return to a path of discussion and diplomacy,” according to the statement.
The Quad and expanding connections with India are important to Washington’s efforts to counter China, but it’s a difficult balancing act with New Delhi, given the latter’s long-standing ties with Russia.
Only India has not criticized Russia’s invasion of Ukraine among the Quad countries. The largest supplier of armaments to the Indian military is Russia, and India faces the possibility of U.S. sanctions for its purchase of Russia’s S-400 air defense system.
Analysts believe that any moves by US Russia hawks to impose penalties on India as a result of its collaboration with Moscow could set back Quad cooperation.
On Wednesday, Donald Lu, the United States’ assistant secretary of state for South Asia, testified before a Senate panel that Washington has been conducting a “pitched battle” with India in diplomatic channels to persuade Delhi to take a strong stance against Russian actions in Ukraine.
He also stated that the US was “very closely” considering imposing sanctions on India as a result of its Russian arms purchases.