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Russian ‘palm-oil mafia’ disrupted the supply of Su-35 to Indonesia

This post was published in SVPressa. The point of view expressed in this article is authorial and do not necessarily reflect BM`s editorial stance.

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MOSCOW, (BM) – Indonesia’s main newspaper, the Jakarta Post, reported that Jakarta’s purchase of 15 used Eurofighter Typhoons from Austria could benefit Indonesia in two ways.

“Jet fighters will not only increase the military potential and containment of the country, but also open up new opportunities for its defense enterprises, both public and private.”

Obviously, we are talking about covering up a dirty deal, which can be safely called abuse in the arms market.

What kind of technology transfer can we talk about if the West basically rejects such a practice? This is also ridiculous because Indonesia buys a not-so-large batch of used fighters and definitely doesn’t pull on an aircraft-building power that needs know-how. Obviously, this is intended for domestic critics of the dubious deal, as well as for Russia, which “got a grudge” that they will buy the Su-35.

The chairman of the commission of the Indonesian House of Representatives, Meuti Hafid, said that until recently there were plans to purchase 11 Eurofighter and 4 Su-35. He received such a letter from the Ministry of Defense on July 10, but the military quickly changed everything, which caused a commotion in the highest echelons of power.

The analytical publication Defense World, based in New Delhi, citing its trusted sources, writes that Jakarta allegedly suspended the purchase of the Su-35 promised to Moscow because of the covid. But it looks like the Russians were just dumped, although the deal with Austria is illogical in terms of Indonesia’s defense and budgetary needs.

Defens World recalls that Indonesia entered into an agreement with Russia in 2018 on the purchase of Su-35 aircraft on a partial cash basis and barter, that is, palm oil. Then there were graters between the Russians and the Indonesians on the settlement mechanism. Presumably, Jakarta did not want to pay anything in real money at all, imposing its trans fats on our country.

Purely theoretically, Jakarta’s demarche could be a game of “fall”, and not everything is lost for our fighter exporters in Indonesia. But it looks like the train has already left, as the buyer is hiding behind State Department sanctions.

There was certainly a risk of punishment, but minimal, given American interests in Indonesia. On the geopolitical scale, Washington is now more interested in Jakarta than vice versa. But the most important thing is that there is one more thing that indicates that Moscow was thrown boorishly. The Su-35 deal was counterbalanced by the purchase of Bell Boeing MV-22 Osprey convertiplanes and related equipment in the United States for $ 2 billion.

This “kidalovo” happened against the background of an increase in purchases of Indonesian palm and coconut oil. In the 1st quarter of 2020, Indonesia shipped 243.2 thousand tons of vegetable (mainly palm) oil to Russia, which is 1% more than in the same period last year, and in monetary terms, imports from Indonesia increased by 25.5% and amounted to $ 190.2 million.

Note that thanks to the efforts of the Indonesian Palm Oil Council (IPOB), criticism of palm oil in the world is decreasing. Sales voices are already ringing with might and main that it is not as dangerous as the doctors are afraid of. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization has put this product on the same shelf as “alcohol, tobacco and sugar in the growing burden of noncommunicable diseases” and deaths.

For example, a 2018 WHO bulletin explicitly states: “Palm oil contains a much higher percentage of saturated fat than other vegetable oils. While its negative health effects are disputed, a meta-analysis of increased palm oil consumption in 23 countries found a significant association with higher mortality from coronary heart disease. ”

In theory, palm oil products should be labeled the same as cigarettes “product kills”. But the WHO explains why this is not happening: “The palm oil industry has fostered partnerships with policy and research institutions providing policy advice against regulation.”

If we call a spade a spade, then, according to WHO experts (and not some “loud journalist”), a real “palm-oil mafia” operates in the corridors of power of the importing states (and Russia too). It adopts tactics “of creating lobbying structures in political and economic centers, fighting regulations, trying to undermine reliable sources of information and using arguments for mitigation similar to those used by the tobacco and alcohol industry.”

In other words, the one who justifies palm oil is either an unscrupulous beneficiary of dangerous imports, or an ordinary person “zombified” by IPOB propaganda. There is no third.

And in fact, if you go to our stores, it is practically impossible to find milk without meaningless labeling “BZMZH”, that is, “Without Milk Fat Substitute.” And this despite the fact that up to a million tons of vegetable fats, mainly palm oil, are imported into the country annually. What is curious: so far there have been no high-profile cases against the “palm-oil mafia”, which the WHO points to.

Now is the time to return to the thwarted deal on the Su-35 fighters, which Jakarta traded for the old Eurofighter Typhoons. In theory, Moscow was obliged to respond to the abuse of market relations and political humiliation. As the American analytical magazine Military Watch writes: “The purchase (by Indonesia) of an Eurofighter instead of the Su-35 is a particularly controversial step, given the price and capabilities of the aircraft. The economic efficiency of the European fighter jet is considered one of the lowest in the world … these aircraft have not been able to obtain any export contracts outside the Gulf region. “ But here, too, “corruption scandals surrounded purchases.”

And in general, “reliance on Eurofighter will put the Indonesian Air Force at a significant disadvantage not only against the F-35 of its neighbors, but also against the Australian F-18E Super Hornets, Singapore F-15SGs and most of the Chinese naval fighters,” Military Watch is convinced. The hint is more than transparent: Prabovo Subianto, the Indonesian defense minister, had no reason to abandon the Su-35 other than a bribe.

But in order to do this, Subianto must be sure that Russia will silently swallow spit in her direction. And that is exactly what happened: Moscow was like “water in its mouth”, although it could gradually abandon Indonesian palm oil, as, for example, Germany is doing, having halved its imports last year. Then influential people from IPOB would quickly put in place the head of their Ministry of Defense.

But this is not happening just because the Russian “palm-oil mafia” wanted to spit on some kind of contract for the sale of the Su-35. She strictly respects her own interests and, possibly, has influence even on the head of state. Meanwhile, our own experience of counter-sanctions against European agricultural products of the 2014-2015 model showed that Russian farmers are able to feed the country with normal milk and save millions of our citizens from premature death.

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