Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has emphasized the growing appeal of the ties between Moscow and Beijing to a “circle of like-minded countries.” He cautioned that NATO’s expansion into the Asia-Pacific region raises the risk of a direct military confrontation between nuclear powers.

Speaking at the 10th Xiangshan Forum in Beijing, Shoigu highlighted the exemplary nature of the relationship between Moscow and Beijing, which is increasingly gaining the interest of other nations.

Shoigu stated at the security conference in the Chinese capital that this “circle of friends and like-minded individuals, who seek to avoid involvement in the confrontational agenda imposed by the collective West, continues to expand.”

He lauded the Xiangshan forum as a respected and sought-after platform for discussions on pressing regional and global security issues, much like the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held earlier in the month.

Shoigu emphasized that the forum facilitates discussions on regional and global security matters and areas of current military cooperation in a friendly and constructive environment.

He also mentioned that the leaders of Russia and China have expressed their commitment to further developing the comprehensive partnership and strategic interaction between the two countries, including in the military and military-technical domains.

During the Belt and Road Forum, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin pledged to “promote the development and revitalization of the two countries.”

Shoigu refrained from providing specific details about the military cooperation agreements between Xi and Putin, which have raised concerns among Washington and its Western allies, especially in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year.

As the leader of the Russian delegation at the Xiangshan Forum, Shoigu was the first speaker at the plenary session discussing “The responsibility of large countries and cooperation in global security.”

Concerning the conflict in Ukraine, Shoigu reported that over 90,000 Ukrainian soldiers have lost their lives in the conflict. He also argued that NATO’s eastward expansion represented a “strategic defeat” for Russia, necessitating countermeasures.

Shoigu asserted that the White House’s persistence in expanding the NATO bloc to the east, disregarding Russia’s legitimate security concerns, had forced Russia to take defensive actions, with Ukraine being cynically used as a point of conflict.

He suggested that the West intends to extend the European conflict into the Asia-Pacific region, citing NATO’s cooperation with Japan, South Korea, and Australia, and he warned that direct involvement in conflicts between nuclear-armed states multiplies strategic risks.

Shoigu pointed out that the constant escalation of conflict with Russia by Western powers poses a threat of a direct military clash between nuclear-armed nations, which could have catastrophic consequences.

He also speculated that Washington’s sharing of missile launch information with South Korea and Japan serves the interests of the U.S. military in the Asia-Pacific region, aimed at containing China and Russia.

Shoigu made it clear that Moscow would only use nuclear weapons in response to a nuclear attack or a threat to Russia’s existence. He denied Western speculations that Moscow might lower its threshold for nuclear weapon use, including withdrawal from the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

Furthermore, Shoigu expressed Russia’s willingness to engage in discussions to resolve the Ukrainian crisis after the conflict, provided that the dialogue is fair, equal, and based on mutual respect between the parties involved. He insisted that Western countries must revise their policies towards Russia for productive negotiations to take place.