In mid-September 2021, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States announced the creation of a new military-political alliance. It was named AUKUS — the name of the bloc was coined from first letters of its member states:
In addition to the creation of the bloc itself, Washington announced measures to provide large-scale assistance to Canberra in the interests of the development of the Australian submarine fleet.
At around the same time, Australia announced its intention to terminate the contract with French shipbuilding company Naval Group for the construction of 12 diesel-electric submarines worth a total of about $66 billion.
Instead, joint programs for the construction of nuclear submarines for Australia will be implemented. In addition, Canberra is to recieve:
According to The Sunday Telegraph, the establishment of the new alliance was coordinated at the G7 summit without the knowledge of French President Emmanuel Macron, with former British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab playing a key role in reaching the agreement.
The reaction from Paris was extremely painfully. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called the termination of the deal a demonstration of duplicity, contempt and lies. In response, Le Drian announced measures to revise NATO's overall strategy and implement a project to create joint armed forces of the European Union.
Immediately after the announcement of the creation of AUKUS, French ambassadors to the United States and Australia were recalled for consultations, and the Minister of State for European Affairs Clément Beaune announced his intention to block free trade negotiations between the European Union and Australia.
It appears that other EU countries, in particular Germany, will support the position of France.
According to Bernd Lange, the head of the International Committee for Trade of the European Parliament, the termination of Australian-French contracts harms the interests of German companies, in particular Atlas Elektronik, a subsidiary of one of Europe's major shipyards, Thyssen Krupp Marine.
European political scientists agree that by creating a new alliance, Joseph Biden neutralized the most important result of his presidency — normalisation of USA's relationship with the European Union. Biden's intention to sweeten the bitter taste in Macron's mouth that has been left as a result of the termination of one of the largest arms deals of our time is unlikely to be a success.
In addition to interaction between NATO allies, the relationship between Australia and New Zealand will have to be put to the test as well. Wellington, being committed to building a nuclear-free world, expresses extreme concern about Canberra's plans to acquire a fleet of nuclear submarines.
The architects of the new Asia-Pacific geopolitical strategy do not conceal the openly anti-Chinese orientation of AUKUS.
China's growing economic and military power is challenging the US dominance in the Pacific Ocean, which made Washington embark on confrontation with Beijing.
AUKUS is not the only military-political alliance in the Asia-Pacific region, which was created with the participation of the United States and its allies. Prior to its formation, defense and security agreements had established the following alliances:
AUKUS has a number of interesting features that distinguish this alliance from previously created ones.
First and foremost, since its inception, large-scale programs have been announced to provide military assistance to Australia. It is worthy of note that Australia is already projecting its influence on the vast adjacent water area of the Oceanic region.
All small island states of the Pacific Ocean are dependent on Australia this way or another. This gives Canberra an opportunity to promote its national interests in various international organisations.
Secondly, the self-isolation of three Anglo-Saxon powers from the rest of the world is striking. It is possible that the formation of AUKUS is only a step to implement a major plan, which started with UK's exit from the European Union.
In fact, by securing control over sea communications in the Pacific Ocean, the USA, Great Britain and Australia gain power to show significant influence on economic activities in the region.
China gives a realistic assessment to threats to its national interests arising from the creation of AUKUS.
The Chinese Embassy in Washington called on the member states of the alliance not to create military-political blocs targeting third countries' interests. China also urged the USA and its allies to get rid of Cold War thinking and ideological prejudices.
Against the backdrop of existing defense alliances, as well as USA's key defense and security allies in East Asia, it appears obvious that creating a new bloc with Australia's participation to the detriment of NATO ties with its European partners looks like a risky political adventure.
However, from the point of view of American analysts, this initiative appears to be balanced, well-calculated and timely.
The Asia-Pacific region is the most dynamically developing pole of power in economic and military-strategic terms. Therefore, in the last decade, the vector of Washington's foreign policy interests has been shifting from Europe to East Asia.
It goes without saying that the creation of AUKUS does not mean a decrease in USA's activity aimed at projecting military power in Europe. France's righteous anger will not shatter NATO's unity.
The idea of creating unified European armed forces requires a consensus of all EU member states, which has not been achieved so far. Therefore, the United States will remain the "chief architect" of the military-political blocs in the world in the foreseeable future.
Despite the competition between Republicans and Democrats, general approaches to the implementation of US national interests remain unchanged:
The trend that emerged during Donald Trump's presidency to redistribute the burden from the United States to allies in military alliances finds support in the Joe Biden administration too. In all likelihood, it will be passed on to future American leaderships.
At the same time, the military and economic dependence of Europe, Australia, Japan and South Korea on the United States does not leave much chance for the implementation of alternative scenarios for the development of international relations. This leaves us to conclude that the American-centric paradigm will last for a long time ahead.
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