The leaders of Australia, the United States, Japan, and India, have vowed to work against any escalation or flow-on effect from the Russian invasion of Ukraine into the Indo-Pacific region.
The brief statements were released following a snap virtual meeting held on the early morning of March 4 Australian EST, which was attended by U.S. President Joe Biden, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Japan’s Fumio Kishida, and Australia’s Scott Morrison.
While the leaders pledged to establish a new humanitarian assistance and disaster relief mechanism for the Indo-Pacific, India’s close relationship with Russia likely contributed to the lack of a joint position on the events in Ukraine.
Australia’s Morrison released a statement outlining his government’s position on Russia’s actions.
“Russia’s actions are a gross violation of international law and the United Nations’ Charter. There is no justification for Russia’s aggression, which is illegal, unjustified, and unprovoked,” he said.
“We cannot allow what is happening in Ukraine now to ever happen in the Indo-Pacific.
“We are resolute in our commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region where smaller states do not need to live in fear of more powerful ones,” he added.
Concerns have been raised that Beijing could take advantage of the situation and launch an invasion into Taiwan—a course of action it has advocated for more prominently in recent years with state media repeatedly claiming the island should be controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Taiwan is currently a self-governing democratic society that was formalised in 1949 by the Nationalist Party who fled from China after losing control of the mainland to the CCP.
Meanwhile, democratic nations have been in lockstep in their support for Ukraine and condemnation of Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
Governments have sent aid (lethal and non-lethal) to Ukraine forces, rolled out tough sanctions against Putin’s inner circle, and taken countermeasures to soften the shock the Ukraine conflict is having on the world economy.
At the same time companies, retirement funds, and non-profit organisations have been boycotting the Russian market in one form or another.
At the same time, Quad member India, has been reticent to criticise Russia, even abstaining from a vote at the UN General Assembly condemning the invasion.
India is a major customer for military equipment from Russia, a legacy relationship from the era of the Soviet Union.
On March 3, Putin and Modi even discussed the evacuation of Indian students from the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, while other nations’ leaders continue freezing out diplomatic contact with the Russian president.