Seeking Strategic Autonomy Through TNI Upgrading

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MANPADS
The Russian 9K333 Verba is a fourth-generation man-portable infrared homing surface-to-air missile (SAM) MANPADS. (Source: YURI SMITYUK/TASS)

Jakarta, IO – The Russian invasion of Ukraine, which started last February, has revived debates on strategic autonomy and reliance on partners and allies for many countries. While Kyiv has received support from partner nations, through steady deliveries of military equipment and weaponry, such as anti-tank weapons, man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS) and support equipment, Ukraine had to face the independent policy stance of a number of countries, focusing on their immediate interest, which were not compatible with an alienation of Russia. For instance, Tel Aviv declines to allow other countries the freedom to send Israeli-made weapon systems to Ukraine, looking to maintain its own good relations with Moscow. Meanwhile, it took weeks for Germany to decide to deliver weapons to Ukraine, weighing up the pros and the cons of such a strategy, while facing dependence on Russia for hydrocarbon energy. Such a decision emphasizes how the arms trade and supply business cannot be unlinked from one’s foreign policy and national interests, and that countries should anticipate such eventualities. 

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Moreover, despite steady deliveries of military equipment to Ukraine, the high intensity of the conflict has proved that states had better anticipate such a crisis. It has also led several nations to rethink their own ideas of strategic autonomy, a concept that was originally focusing on a defense industry. Strategic autonomy has been defined by the European Union as the way to “chart its own course in line with its interests and values” in order to “manage interdependence in the best possible way”. The concept was mainly developed by France back in the 1960s, a policy that is still being implemented by Paris since then. In other words, strategic autonomy should grant a country the ability to face and handle major geopolitical perturbations and should be understood as not only limited to defense and security sectors.