They gathered around the “S-79 Pasopati” – a Soviet-made submarine, which now serves as a memorial for Indonesia’s struggle for independence, to install a commemorative plaque that reads in three languages – Russian, English and Indonesian: “In the memory of the friendly Indonesian-Russian relations in the struggle for territorial integrity of the Republic of Indonesia.”
“Pasopati” was one of 12 naval vessels gifted by the USSR to Indonesia in 1962 as the nation was struggling to get rid of the Dutch colonial rule and fighting against extremist and separatist groups in various regions. The vessel was used by the Indonesian Navy to transport arms and marines to the West Irian province in 1962. The sub was taken apart in 1994 and re-assembled as a memorial near a central mall in Java’s Surabaya.
Even though the place is quite popular among locals and tourists, the Soviet origin of the sub was only briefly mentioned by tour guides, with no official signs anywhere around the location.
According to Vorobieva, the fact that the ceremony was held on June 12 is a special privilege for Moscow.
“It is significant that this happened on Russia Day and became another symbol of the strong relations, friendship and cooperation that bind our two countries,” she said. “It is very important that in the current difficult geopolitical conditions, our Indonesian friends are not trying to rewrite history, but, on the contrary, remember those events, remember how our country helped Indonesia to ensure independence, gain territorial integrity, and establish Indonesian statehood.”
In the 1950s and 60s, the USSR provided Indonesia with lots of military aid, which included several naval warships, oil tankers, fighter and bomber planes, and helped the nation in its struggle for independence from the Dutch colonizers, as well as in its fight against separatists and extremist groups in the regions such as Sulawesi and Sumatra.
Despite pressure from the West, Indonesia opted for an independent policy on the Ukrainian issue, refusing to impose economic sanctions against Moscow or to cut ties with Russia, while also objecting to the West’s attempts to exclude Russia from the G20 while Indonesia was chair in 2022.
2023 marks the 73rd anniversary of diplomatic ties between Moscow and Jakarta.