BEIJING (Reuters) – Russian Defense Minister said the West wants to expand the conflict in Ukraine to the Asia-Pacific region, Russian state media reported, citing remarks made at a defense forum in Beijing on Monday.
In a speech at the Xiangshan Forum, China’s largest military diplomacy event, Shoigu said NATO was covering up a troop increase in the Asia-Pacific with an “obvious desire for dialogue,” Russian news agency TASS reported.
Shoigu said NATO countries would encourage an arms race in the region and increase their military presence and the frequency and scale of military exercises there.
US forces would use information sharing with Tokyo and Seoul about missile launches to deter Russia and China, Shoigu said. He also accused Washington of using climate change and natural disasters as a pretext for “humanitarian interventions.”
Shoigu said the emergence of new security blocs such as Quad and AUKUS undermines the role of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and nuclear non-proliferation efforts in the region.
At the same time, he said that Russia’s move to revoke ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty does not mean the end of the agreement and Russia is not lowering its threshold for the use of nuclear weapons.
“We just want to restore parity with the United States, which has not ratified this treaty,” Russian news agency RIA quoted Shoigu as saying. “We don’t talk about its destruction.”
Shoigu said Moscow was ready for talks on the post-war solution to the Ukraine crisis and continued “coexistence” with the West, but that Western countries must stop seeking Russia’s strategic defeat.
Shoigu made it clear that the conditions for such talks have not yet been met: “It is also important to ensure equal relations between all nuclear powers and the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, which have a special responsibility for maintaining peace and global stability carry.”
(Reporting by Lidia Kelly in Sydney; Writing by Liz Lee and Laurie Chen in Beijing and Olzhas Auyezov in Almaty; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Gerry Doyle)