BEIJING: Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said the West wants to expand the conflict in the Ukraine to the Asia-Pacific region, Russian state media reported, citing comments made at a Beijing defence forum on Monday.
Speaking at the Xiangshan Forum, China’s biggest military diplomacy event, Shoigu said NATO is covering up a build-up of forces in the Asia-Pacific region with an “ostentatious desire for dialogue”, Russia’s TASS news agency reported.
Shoigu said NATO countries were promoting an arms race in the region, increasing their military presence and the frequency and scale of military drills there.
US forces will use information exchanges with Tokyo and Seoul on missile launches to deter Russia and China, Shoigu said. He also accused Washington of trying to use climate change and natural disasters as an excuse for “humanitarian interventions”.
Shoigu said the emergence of new security blocs such as the Quad and AUKUS undermined the role of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and nuclear non-proliferation efforts in the region.
At the same time, he said, Russia’s move to revoke its ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty did not mean the end of the agreement, and Russia was not lowering its threshold for the use of nuclear weapons.
“We are only seeking to restore parity with the United States, who have not ratified this treaty,” Russia’s RIA news agency quoted Shoigu as saying. “We are not talking about its destruction.”
Shoigu said that Moscow was ready for talks on the post-conflict settlement of the Ukraine crisis on further ‘co-existence’ with the West, but that Western countries needed to stop seeking Russia’s strategic defeat.
Making clear the conditions for such talks were not in place yet, Shoigu said: “It is also important to ensure equal relations between all the nuclear powers and permanent United Nations Security Council members who carry special responsibility for upholding peace and global stability.”