NATO chief warns that Putin winning in Ukraine would signal to China it can achieve its goals through 'brute force'
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg warned that a Russian victory in Ukraine could have global consequences.
If Putin wins, it would show countries like China that "brute force" works, he said.
"Beijing is watching closely. And learning lessons that may influence its future decisions," he warned.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday warned that a Russian victory in the war it launched against Ukraine would send a "dangerous" message to authoritarian regimes around the world.
"Beijing and Moscow are leading an authoritarian pushback against the international rules-based order. The Indo-Pacific faces growing challenges, from China's coercive behaviour to provocations by North Korea," Stoltenberg said at a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo, going on to characterize Russia's "brutal war of aggression against Ukraine" as not only a crisis for Europe but a "challenge to the world order."
"If President Putin wins in Ukraine, this would send a message that authoritarian regimes can achieve their goals through brute force. This is dangerous. Beijing is watching closely. And learning lessons that may influence its future decisions," the NATO chief said. "What is happening in Europe today could happen in East Asia tomorrow. So we must remain united and firm. Standing together for freedom and democracy."
Since Russia launched an unprovoked invasion of Ukraine last February, the subject of China's aggression toward Taiwan has been a constant point of discussion among leaders and top officials worldwide.
A visit to Taiwan by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last August prompted provocative Chinese military drills near the self-governing island democracy, leading to concerns about the potential for an invasion. Chinese military activities have continued, and recently, a US Air Force general suggested a fight could break out over the island as early as 2025. The DC-based think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies spent months wargaming such a situation, and the outcome was bleak.
Stoltenberg on Tuesday said that China's behavior was a matter of serious concern.
"China is substantially building up its military forces, including nuclear weapons. Bullying its neighbors, and threatening Taiwan. Trying to control critical infrastructure. And spreading disinformation about NATO and the war in Ukraine," he said.
Beijing, which often sides with Moscow on geopolitical issues, has taken a relatively cautious approach to the Ukraine war as Western countries like the US have warned it against providing material support to Russia.
China has not condemned Russia's invasion, and Chinese state media has often echoed Russian propaganda critical of NATO. But Beijing also hasn't offered full-throated support for Moscow's war. During a meeting with Xi Jinping in September, Putin acknowledged that the Chinese leader had "question and concerns" regarding Russia's ongoing invasion.
China has continued to foster robust political and economic ties to Russia, providing Moscow a lifeline as it contends with crippling economic sanctions imposed by the West in response to the war. And Putin and Xi pledged in late December to deepen cooperation between their two countries.
At the time, Xi said China was ready "to increase strategic cooperation with Russia, provide each other with development opportunities, be global partners for the benefit of the peoples of our countries and in the interests of stability around the world," per the Associated Press.
"In the face of increasing geopolitical tensions, the significance of the Russian-Chinese strategic partnership is growing as a stabilizing factor," Putin said as Moscow and Beijing threaten the security structures in their respective regions.
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