It’s not in Germany’s interest for India to remain dependent on Russian weapons’, German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said on Monday during a tour of Asia to shore up defence partnerships.
India has long relied on Russia for its defence needs and has also become a major buyer of discounted Russian crude oil since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine began in early 2022.
‘It is not up to Germany to change that on our own,’ Pistorius told DW’s chief political correspondent Nina Haase in an exclusive interview in Jakarta, Indonesia.
‘This is an issue we have to solve jointly with other partners. But of course, we can’t have an interest in the long run that India is so dependent on Russia’s delivery of weapons or other materials.’
Pistorius was in the Indonesian capital ahead of a four-day trip to India, where he will be accompanied by representatives from Germany’s defence industry.
‘I want to send a signal that we are willing to support our partners, our reliable partners like Indonesia, like India,’ he said. ‘And that includes, for example, the possibility of delivering submarines.’
‘I came here because this region will be shaping the 21st century in regards of security, freedom of navigation [and] international economic challenges,’ Pistorius told DW.
‘And therefore, the region is important not only for Germany, but for Europe as a whole.’
Germany, Indonesia seek closer defence ties
Germany’s defence ties with Indonesia was another item on Pistorius’ agenda during talks with Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, however there were no immediate promises to deliver new weapons.
‘I’ve got in my suitcase no weapons, of course, but the assurance and the promise that we will be busy,’ said Pistorius.
He said Germany will reconsider its export controls to support the defence capacity of ‘reliable partners’ in the region.
‘If we think seriously of engaging in that region, if we think seriously about de-risking and not decoupling, if we think seriously about what is necessary to be a serious and reliable partner in that region, then this must include the willingness to discuss how we can support our partners – our old partners, our new partners – in that region,’ he said.
Pistorius said he can ‘absolutely understand’ Indonesia’s desire to procure new fighter jets.
‘The decisions for that are comprehensively prepared in a very positive way, I think,’ he told DW.
‘But the decision hasn’t been made yet and I expect it in the near future.’
Calls for negotiation over Taiwan Strait rivalry
As tensions rise between the United States in China in the region, particularly in the Taiwan Strait, Pistorius said it is in both countries’ interest to negotiate rather than trade accusations.
‘I think we experienced in Shangri-La was something like shadowboxing,’ he said.
‘Anyway, I think both of them should be – and ought to be – very interested in coming back to the table to negotiate and to keep in touch with each other, because otherwise the space for misunderstandings and the risk for escalations will even increase.’
‘Both of them know that, and therefore I’m quite sure they will get back to the table.’
Germany deployed its first warship to the Indo-Pacific region – the frigate Bayern – in 2021 and is set to send another ship to the region next year.
Pistorius told DW that a decision has not yet been made as to whether this new ship will conduct navigation missions in the Taiwan Strait.
Pistorius confident about German weapons in Ukraine
Pistorius’ trip to Asia comes amid domestic scrutiny of Germany’s arms deliveries to Ukraine.
He said Ukraine is allowed under international law to attack Russia out of self-defence, but added that Germany has always stressed it does not want German tanks or other weapons be used within Russia’s borders.
Pistorius said he has not received any signals from Kyiv that it would go against Germany’s wishes in this respect.
‘I trust in our Ukrainian partners absolutely,’ he said.