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At China military forum, Russian defense minister accuses the US of fueling geopolitical tensions

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Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu says the United States is fueling geopolitical tensions to uphold its “hegemony,” and he warns of the risk of confrontation between major countries

BEIJING -- Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Monday the United States is fueling geopolitical tensions to uphold its “hegemony” and warned of the risk of confrontation between major countries.

Speaking at a defense forum in Beijing, Shoigu also said the U.S. and its Asia-Pacific allies are undermining stability in the region.

“To maintain its geopolitical and strategic dominance, the United States is deliberately undermining the basis of international security and strategic stability,” Shoigu said, according to a simultaneous translation provided at the Xiangshan Forum, which China’s biggest annual event centered on military diplomacy.

He added that the U.S. and its Western allies are threatening Russia through NATO’s “eastward expansion.”

“Western countries aim to escalate the coNFLict with Russia and increase the risk of major country confrontation,” he said. “This will lead to serious consequences.”

Turning to Russia's war in Ukraine, Shoigu said Moscow was open to negotiations “if conditions are right.”

Shoigu spoke directly after Zhang Youxia, China’s second-ranking military official and vice chairman of the Central Military Commission.

Zhang opened the three-day event in the absence of Gen. Li Shangfu, who was removed as China's defense minister last week after a two-month absence from public view. The Chinese government did not say why Li, who would have hosted the forum, was removed.

Military representatives from dozens of countries are attending the event, which is an occasion for Beijing to underscore military cooperation with other nations and project regional leadership.

The U.S. is represented by a delegation led by Xanthi Carras, the Defense Department’s principal official for issues related to China.

Zhang said China was “willing to develop Military ties with the U.S. on the basis of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation.”

China suspended Military communication with the U.S. in August 2022 to show its displeasure over a visit by former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to self-ruled Taiwan, which Beijing considers part of its territory.

Without directly naming the U.S., Zhang criticized “certain countries” that “keep stirring up troubles around the world.”

“They deliberately create turbulences, meddle in regional affairs, interfere in other countries’ internal affairs and instigate color revolutions.” Such countries “give fuel to the disputes by providing weapons and launching proxy wars” and “always unfairly support one side” in regional disputes, he added.

Zhang called for “a political settlement on the Ukraine crisis” and “an immediate ceasefire and stop of violence by parties in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and an early resumption of peace talks.”

China maintains that it is neutral in the Ukraine war, but it favors Russia in practice, with frequent state visits and joint military drills between the two nations.

It similarly wants to project a mediator role in the Israel-Hamas war, though experts say Beijing's influence in the conflict is limited.

Zhang reiterated threats by the Chinese government regarding any efforts toward Taiwan’s independence, saying that “no matter who tries to split Taiwan from China in any form, China and the Chinese military will never allow that to happen and will never be soft on them.”

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