NATO Chief: West Should ‘Impose a Cost’ on China for Supporting Russia


Jens Stoltenberg, secretary-general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), said on Monday that China should be penalized for supporting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Beijing cannot have it both ways. At some point — and unless China changes course — allies need to impose a cost. There should be consequences,” he said.

“China is fueling the largest armed conflict in Europe since World War II, and, at the same time, it wants to maintain good relations with the West,” he pointed out.

Stoltenberg was speaking at the Wilson Center in Washington, DC. His remarks were dismissive of “isolationism,” which he saw as illogical in a deeply interconnected world.

“The vast Atlantic and Pacific Oceans do not protect the U.S. in an age of rising global challenges: intercontinental ballistic missiles, strategic submarines, the weaponization of space, and increased cyber and terrorist attacks,” he observed.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks to members of the media after meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden at the White House on June 17, 2024, in Washington, DC. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Stoltenberg saw Chinese dictator Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin joining forces to oppose NATO and the United States, using the invasion of Ukraine as a hammer blow to shatter the post-World War II international order. He suggested the best way to make Putin look for an exit from Ukraine was to make it clear that he cannot outlast NATO’s resources or wear down its resolve.

“It may seem like a paradox, but the path to peace is, therefore, more weapons for Ukraine. I strongly welcome the $60 billion package that the U.S. Congress passed in April. This is significant and complements efforts by other NATO allies,” he said.

Stoltenberg blasted China for “sharing high-end technologies, like semiconductors and other dual-use items,” with Russia. He suggested China’s support was a major factor in Putin’s calculations that he might be able to outlast NATO and Ukraine.

“Russia is receiving support from others, too. North Korea has delivered over one million artillery shells, and Iran has delivered thousands of deadly Shahed drones. In exchange, Pyongyang and Tehran are receiving Russian technology and supplies to help them advance their missile and nuclear capabilities,” he said, contending that stronger NATO unity was the best way to push back against this malign alliance.

Stoltenberg said he had invited Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea to July’s NATO summit in Washington to discuss how they can work together to “uphold the international rules-based order and protect our shared values.”

This is actually one of China’s common talking points: the U.S. is scheming to build an “Asian NATO” with countries like Japan and South Korea, so China must forge closer ties with its own allies to push back.

During the question-and-answer session after his speech, Stoltenberg addressed such talking points from China and Russia by stressing that NATO has always been a “defensive alliance,” while Russia is clearly the aggressor in Ukraine. He argued that a strong defensive posture was the best way to dissuade aggressive powers like Russia from contemplating further invasions, and he suggested China should, likewise, factor a strong Western deterrence into its calculations of conquest:

I think there’s this idea that we can distinguish between the threats we see in Europe, posed by Russia, and the threats and the challenges in Asia, Asia Pacific, posed by China, that we can separate those is wrong. Our security is global, not regional, and that’s very clearly demonstrated in Ukraine.

If President Putin prevails in Ukraine, it’s not only a tragedy for the Ukrainians. It sends a very clear message to President Putin but also to President Xi that when they use military force, when they violate international law, they achieve what they want. So, if you’re afraid of Chinese aggression in the South China Sea or Taiwan, then you should be very concerned about Ukraine.

Stoltenberg said some of the European NATO allies were “a bit slow” to see China as a global threat, but the U.S. persuaded them to adjust their thinking at the end of the last decade. He was “optimistic” that the “agile and adaptable” NATO could rise to the challenge of handling two hostile great powers.

The Chinese government denounced Stoltenberg’s remarks on Tuesday, accusing the NATO chief of “shifting blame” for the war in Ukraine and “sowing discord.”

“The world has seen what kind of role NATO has played in the Ukraine crisis. What the NATO should do is reflect on itself, rather than smear and attack China,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lin Jian sneered.

“What NATO should do is reflect on itself, rather than smear and attack China. China is not a creator of or a party to the Ukraine crisis. We are committed to promoting talks for peace,” Lin insisted.


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