Category : News
Author: Audrey Young

White House security co-ordinator Kurt Campbell says the large response by countries in Asia to Ukraine is based on a desire to make sure such an invasion is not replicated by any other country in the region.

"It is unstated but it rests in all the calculations across the Indo Pacific," Campbell told the US Business Summit in Auckland via video from Washington.

For a conflict in Europe there had been an unprecedented contribution from friends and partners including Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and an unofficial contribution from Taiwan.

One of the reasons for that had been "a desire to make sure that what happens in Ukraine is a cautionary tale, and that no one thinks about replicating such an invasion or set of actions in the Indo Pacific."

He thanked Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for stepping up for New Zealand and "for understanding the moment".

Dr Kurt Campbell, the Indo Pacific co-ordinator on the US National Security Council.

In a discussion about New Zealand's role globally, Campbell said New Zealand had always
understood its global soft power but he added a rider.

"If there has been an area in the past where New Zealand has been more ambivalent, it has been occasionally on areas associated with hard security.

"I don't that will be the case going forward," he said. "I think there is an understanding that the challenges that are presenting themselves on the global stage are not so distant. They are closer and they have direct implications and New Zealand has a role in that.

"I don't think it is in our interests to push New Zealand beyond its comfort zone but I do believe that there is a beginning of a discussion and debate about why New Zealand has to do more."

Campbell is the Indo-Pacific co-ordinator on the White House's National Security Council and worked in the Obama Administration too.

He said that the United States at the outset, in November, engaged China directly to explain the concerns about Russia's large movement of troops toward Ukraine – the invasion began in February.

A series of steps over the last couple of months had been concerning including what he called a "no-holds barred partnership" declared by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping.


He said while China had tried to effect a kind of neutrality publicly, had promulgated storylines that were antithetical to peace and stability, including the claim that the massacres in Bucha were falsified.

"Obviously we want to engage and continue to have dialogue with Chinese friends but it is important to lay down very clear markers that the kind of partnership, the kind of world view that is represented by this partnership between Putin and Xi is of concern for us as we go forward."

And while what was happening in Europe was of monumental importance "the long game for us is what plays out in the Indo Pacific."

"It will be extraordinarily important for us to step up our game across the board."

Next week President Joe Biden would be hosting all Asean country leaders in Washington.

He will host all Pacific Island leaders later in the year and will be travelling to northeast Asia "which are determined to send a signal of a strong purposeful engagement".

Campbell said it was "almost unimaginable" for such a conflict to be taking place in Ukraine of the sort not seen since the late 1930s and 1940s.

"It has caused all of us to re-examine how we think about security. It has caused all of us to think about partnerships and about associations as we have gone forward."

"We recognise that Putin is deeply unpredictable. Almost every either he or one of his ministers makes nuclear threats. It is a dangerous environment. I don't think we have faced this kind of danger for some time."

"Obviously what we have seen is unprecedented Trans-Atlantic community and co-ordination of the kind we have not seen since the end of the second World War.

"Old partnerships are reborn, new countries join the fray, the level of dialogue and discussion is remarkable. Countries who had previously had some anxieties about security issues are stepping up to the plate in new and important ways."

He said it would be difficult to sustain such a level of unbelievably close co-ordination "but that is what the United States has set its task forward in the time ahead."

Campbell led a delegation to the Pacific last week including to the Solomon Islands which has just signed a security pact with China.

Note from Nighthawk.NZ:

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