A Russian victory against Ukraine would embolden China, says NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.
“If we cannot stop Russia’s cycle of aggression in Europe, others will learn the lesson that using force against America’s interests works,” Stoltenberg said in a speech at the Heritage Foundation on Wednesday.
“China is watching closely. And supporting Putin. Let’s remember, China and Russia are partners,” Stoltenberg said in his remarks.
Stoltenberg has, on previous occasions, highlighted the geopolitical dangers of a Ukrainian defeat. The NATO chief told Fox News in an interview on Sunday that China could invade Taiwan if Russia wins the war.
“It is important that Putin doesn’t get his way in Ukraine, because that will embolden other authoritarian powers,” Stoltenberg told Fox News’ Shannon Bream.
“Today it’s Ukraine, tomorrow it may be Taiwan,” he continued.
Stoltenberg’s remarks also echo the position of CIA director William J. Burns. The CIA chief wrote in a Foreign Affairs op-ed published on Tuesday that China has now far superseded Russia in terms of how big a threat it poses to the US.
“While Russia may pose the most immediate challenge, China is the bigger long-term threat,” Burns wrote in his article.
Last week, a Chinese defense ministry spokesperson accused NATO of being a “walking war machine” after he was asked about NATO’s ongoing military exercise, Steadfast Defender 2024.
The exercise, which kicked off on January 24, is the largest NATO has conducted since the Cold War. Steadfast Defender 2024 is scheduled to take place across the transatlantic region over the next six months.
“In recent years, NATO has been inching closer to the Asia Pacific and using the nonexistent ‘China threat’ as an excuse to advance bloc confrontation, which poses a threat to regional security,” defense ministry spokesperson Wu Qian said at a press conference on January 25.
Representatives for NATO did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider sent outside regular business hours.