Russia and China have sent warships on a joint naval mission to the Pacific Ocean amid escalating tensions between Beijing, Moscow, and the West. Xi Jinping’s communist regime has clashed in recent months with the US-allied island of Taiwan, while Russia has reacted angrily to moves by Ukraine to join the NATO alliance. Japan has watched the recent naval maneuvers by Russia and China with alarm.
It comes as Putin’s government described the entry of Ukraine into NATO as the worst-case scenario as a fierce row broke out over Kyiv’s bid to join the powerful western military bloc.
Russia has been engaged in a low-running conflict in the Donbas, eastern Ukraine which has claimed more than 14,000 lives.
The Kremlin has said that Ukraine joining the NATO pact would be a “red line” for Russia’s national interests.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Parisian TV channel France 5: “Ukraine’s accession to NATO would be the worst-case scenario.
“Because, before the Russian troops were moved to that region, there were large NATO exercises held near the Russian border.
“Everyone talks about the concentration of Russian troops all the time, but nobody talks about the concentration of NATO troops.”
He added: “It is not clear whether Americans will stay in Europe and continue to defend Europeans against those ‘terrible Russians’.”
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg stressed that Russia has no influence over the decision of whether Ukraine can become a NATO member while speaking in Brussels in June.