BEIJING (AP) — Russian defense minister said on Monday the United States is stoking geopolitical tensions to maintain its “hegemony” and warned of the risk of confrontation between major countries.
Speaking at a defense forum in Beijing, Shoigu also said the US and its Asia-Pacific allies were undermining stability in the region.
“In order to maintain its geopolitical and strategic dominance, the United States is deliberately undermining the foundation of international security and strategic stability,” Shoigu said, according to a simultaneous translation, at the Xiangshan Forum, China’s largest annual military diplomacy event.
He added that the United States and its Western allies are threatening Russia through NATO’s “eastward expansion.”
“Western countries are aiming to escalate the conflict with Russia and increase the risk of a larger country confrontation,” he said. “This will have serious consequences.”
Regarding Russia’s war in Ukraine, Shoigu said Moscow was open to negotiations “if the conditions are right.”
Shoigu spoke immediately after Zhang Youxia, China’s second-ranking military official and vice chairman of the Central Military Commission.
Zhang opened the three-day event in absentia General Li Shangfu, who was removed as China’s defense minister last week after a two-month absence from the public eye. The Chinese government did not say why Li, who would have moderated the forum, was removed.
Military representatives from dozens of countries are attending the event, an opportunity for Beijing to underscore military cooperation with other nations and project regional leadership.
The US will be represented by a delegation led by Xanthi Carras, the Defense Department’s chief official for China-related issues.
Zhang said China is “willing to establish military relations with the US on the basis of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation.”
China Military communications suspended with the US in August 2022 to express displeasure with a visit by former US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to self-ruled Taiwan, which Beijing considers part of its territory.
Without directly naming the United States, Zhang criticized “certain countries” that “continue to foment unrest around the world.”
“They deliberately create turmoil, interfere in regional affairs, interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, and instigate color revolutions.” Such countries “incite strife by providing weapons and starting proxy wars” and “always support one side wrongly” in regional disputes, he added.
Zhang called for “a political solution to the Ukraine crisis” and “an immediate ceasefire and an end to violence by the parties in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as an early resumption of peace talks.”
China claims to be neutral in the Ukraine war, but in practice it favors Russia, with frequent state visits and joint military exercises between the two nations.
They also want to take on a mediating role in the Israel-Hamas war, although experts say that Beijing’s influence in the conflict is limited.
Zhang reiterated the Chinese government’s threats over any efforts for Taiwan’s independence, saying: “No matter who tries to separate Taiwan from China in any way, China and the Chinese military will never allow it and will never be lenient towards them.”