China lashes out at ‘agent of trouble’ NATO

China lashes out at ‘agent of trouble’ NATO

The conflict in Ukraine is closely related to the bloc’s eastward expansion, Beijing’s UN envoy has said

NATO should cease its “saber-rattling” and start promoting global peace, Chinese envoy Zhang Jun has said at a UN Security Council meeting dedicated to the second anniversary of the conflict in Ukraine.

The struggle between Moscow and Kiev, which started on February 24, 2022, is a “tragedy that could have been avoided,” Zhang stressed in his address on Friday.

”The situation Europe is facing today is closely related to the repeated eastward expansion of NATO since the end of the Cold War,” he said.

Russia singled out preventing Ukraine from joining NATO as one of the main goals of its military operation in the neighboring country. Moscow warned on numerous occasions that it viewed Kiev’s possible membership in the US-led military alliance as a major threat to its security.

The Chinese envoy underlined the need to “respect the legitimate security concerns of all countries,” who are members of the UN. “Regional security cannot be guaranteed by strengthening or even expanding a military bloc,” he added.

”We encourage NATO to do some soul-searching, come out of the cage of Cold War mentality, and refrain from acting as an agent of trouble instigating bloc confrontation,” Zhang said.

He also called on NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg “to look at the world through an objective lens, stop saber-rattling, and do things that are genuinely conducive to world peace.”

According to the envoy, the parties to the Ukraine conflict should work towards creating “favorable conditions for the resumption of negotiations… not man-made obstacles to make peace harder to achieve, much less to supply weapons, stoke the fire and pour oil on it, and to profit from the prolonged crisis.”

In an interview with American journalist Tucker Carlson earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that “the promise was that NATO would not expand eastward” after the collapse of the USSR in 1991. But the West deceived Moscow, with the US-led bloc adding new members from among Eastern European and former Soviet states on several occasions since then, he said.

In 1999, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland were the first former Soviet-bloc nations to join NATO. An even bigger wave of expansion occurred in 2004 when Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia became members.

At its Bucharest summit in 2008, the alliance said that Georgia and Ukraine would become members in the future, spurring vigorous protests from Russia.

READ MORE: Chinese defense chief promises support to Russia on ‘Ukrainian issue’

The next year, NATO added Albania and Croatia to its ranks, followed by the inclusion of Montenegro and North Macedonia in 2017 and 2020, respectively.

The latest country to join is Finland, which acceded last year citing security concerns over the conflict in Ukraine. Neighboring Sweden is also on the verge of being accepted, lacking approval only from Hungary to finalize its membership.

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