Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has accused the United States of fuelling geopolitical tensions to uphold its “global dominance by any means” and warned of the growing risk of confrontation between nuclear-armed countries.
Addressing the Xiangshan Forum, China’s biggest military diplomacy conference, Shoigu also claimed the NATO alliance was trying to expand its footprint in the Asia Pacific under the pretence of seeking dialogue and collaboration with regional countries.
“Washington for years has deliberately undermined and destroyed the foundations of international security and strategic stability, including the system of arms control agreements,” Shoigu said at the start of the three-day event on Monday.
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“Having provoked an acute crisis in Europe, the West is trying to expand the crisis potential in the Asia Pacific,” he told delegates from about 90 countries.
“Direct involvement of countries with nuclear arsenals multiplies the strategic risks. The West’s line towards escalation with Russia poses a risk of direct conflict between nuclear powers, which will result in catastrophic consequences,” Shoigu added.
Shoigu’s gloomy assessment was echoed by China, whose defence minister Li Shangfu was sacked without explanation last week after disappearing from public view at the end of August.
China has refused to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and has deepened economic, diplomatic and military cooperation with Moscow since the start of the war in February 2022.Russian President Vladimir Putin this month paid a two-day visit to China, his first outside the former Soviet Union this year and part of the Kremlin’s drive to strengthen its economic partnerships across Asia.
Zhang Youxia, China’s second most senior military official, painted a grim picture of the international situation, blaming countries he did not name for the turmoil.
“As we look across the world today, hotspot issues are arising one after another. The pain of war, chaos and turmoil, and loss of life are constantly playing out,” Zhang said.
“Some countries, for fear that the world may stabilise, deliberately create turmoil, interfere in regional issues, interfere in other countries’ internal affairs, and instigate colour revolutions,” he said.
“Behind the scenes, they hand out knives and think nothing of provoking people into wars, ensuring that they’re the ones who benefit from the chaos,” he added.
Zhang – who embraced Shoigu on the sidelines of the forum – said that Beijing was “willing to develop military ties with the US on the basis of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation.”
China suspended military communication with the US, which was represented at the forum by a delegation led by Xanthi Carras, the leading official on China at the Pentagon, in August 2022.
In recent years, the US has deepened its relationships with countries across the Asia Pacific, with initiatives such as the Quad that includes Australia, India and Japan, as well as the AUKUS project with Australia and the United Kingdom, which involves the sharing of nuclear-powered submarine technology and the development of advanced weaponry.