12 Mei 2010

Russia Makes Defence Proposals to Brunei

12 Mei 2010
In October 2009, Sultan of Brunei visited to Russia and saw Russian-made air defense system and Ka-52 attack helicopter in action. He also visited a training center for special forces units, and watched a demonstration of Spetsnaz tactics. (photo : freerepublic)

Russia has once again expressed great interest in possible investment opportunities and areas of cooperation since His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam's official visit to the federative republic in October last year.

In an interview with the Borneo Bulletin, the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Brunei Darussalam, Victor Seleznev, shared several possibilities of Russian interest in the further development of Brunei Darussalam, especially in the areas of defence, energy, education, science & technology and tourism.

"We are now in good productive discussion with the defence ministry," revealed the ambassador.

"However, only some of the defence aspects of our cooperation have been pushed forward and that makes people forget that the scope of our cooperation which we are now preparing is much wider," he explained.

"But we've made proposals to the Brunei side and they are now thinking about how it should be done."

The Russian Ambassador was especially keen on possible training opportunities for Brunei's military in Russia.

"But naturally we must apply it to Brunei's necessities. We cannot impose, we can only propose and it's up to Brunei to choose what is useful for them," he told the Bulletin.

According to previous published news reports in the Borneo Bulletin last October, His Majesty had met with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev as well as officials from Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport for discussions on the possibility of future arms purchases where it was noted that "the military sphere is a promising direction".

Seleznev also spoke of the importance of the development of the dialogue with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and especially with the Asean Regional Forum (ARF).

"The ARF was really a great breakthrough for the region and we must congratulate Brunei and other Asean countries because since it was launched the conflicts in the region were greatly reduced and now not only do we not see many conflicts but there is no outside interference in the region. This is a great success for Asean and ARF," lauded Mr Seleznev.

The ARF currently is the first and most important governmental forum for multilateral security dialogue and cooperation in the Asia-Pacific. During His Majesty's state visit last year, it was announced that Brunei and Russia will co-chair a meeting at the ARF in July this year.

Meanwhile, the Ambassador also shared with the Bulletin Russian interest in the energy sector revealing that they are now "discussing possibilities of cooperation in oil and gas".

"We have very good and cheap technology that can help extract more oil and gas that have already been forgotten," he told the Bulletin.

"Sometimes (abandoned oil wells) still contain a significant percentage of oil and it was left because extracting is costly and (therefore) difficult to contract out," he explained.

"We have the technology to do this and if it is to be applied it is like finding another oilfield.

"We also have the technology for making power plants. We are making the proposals to Brunei and I hope they will study them and pick up whichever model that could be applied to Brunei," he said, citing a hydropower plant as a possible example for Brunei.

Another proposal is for possible Russian investments in Brunei's white sands. Previously South Korea and France have made similar proposals for the production of high-tech lens and glass respectively but neither proposal has materialised.

"Its current uses are limited but we can help Brunei develop it further," said Mr Seleznev, explaining that it has high applications in solar power stations or even cosmetics.

According to the Brunei Economic Development Board website, "abundant deposits of silica sand available in Brunei have been conducive to the development of a hub for solar cell and module production."

The Russian Ambassador went on to elaborate on other areas of cooperation in the areas of education and tourism that he hopes to see developed.

"We should also cooperate in areas of science and technology as well as education," he told the Bulletin.

"We are now discussing those possibilities with the relevant ministry and Universiti Brunei Darussalam, especially as His Majesty has expressed interest in training locals in specialised areas of engineering and specialised technologies," he revealed.

"After all, Russia has the resources and facilities to train your people in these professions," he added.

"We can also have brilliant cooperation in producing your medical staff. For example, in Malaysia and Indonesia many medical students are now training in Russia in many different fields of medicine," said Mr Seleznev.

Also a strong possibility is increased cooperation in the area of tourism as the ambassador revealed that he has already begun talks with representatives from the Brunei Tourism Board.

"I understand that not many Russians have yet to visit Brunei but I believe it would be very much interesting for (the Russians).

"You have health tourism as you have good medical institutions as well as eco-tourism which will attract many Russians," Mr Seleznev pointed out.

Describing Brunei as "great peace keepers", Mr Seleznev lauded the many positive roles that Brunei has played in the region and beyond.

"Brunei might be a small country but practically participating and establishing world peace. This is really a very big role played by Brunei, which sets a very good role for the world.

"We are very much expecting development through the mutual understanding and cooperation between Brunei and Russia," he asserted.

During His Majesty's sate visit to the Russian Federation last year, His Majesty had expressed satisfaction that the two countries have signed several bilateral agreements and Memoranda of Understanding and "will be signing a few more in the near future".

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