China and Russia want a world where force is used to settle disputes, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has warned, pledging that the United States will continue to uphold international law.
“Beijing, like Moscow, seeks a world where power imposes its will, where disputes are resolved by force and where authoritarian leaders can smother the flame of freedom,” the US Pentagon chief said during the speech of the Halifax International Security Forum in Canada.
Moscow’s war against Kiev “highlighted the problem we face in the Indo-Pacific region,” he said, referring to China’s pressure in the region.
“There are always rules in war. And if one great power can violate these rules, it encourages others to defy International Law and international rules,” he said, paralleling China and Russia.
“We are determined to defend these rules – and especially the fundamental principle of civilian immunity,” said Lloyd Austin.
Moscow’s efforts to secure the support of countries such as Iran and North Korea are creating new security issues for the US and its allies.
“Russia has turned to Iran and North Korea to support its attack on Ukraine and in particular using Iranian drones to kill Ukrainians.”
Unless Ukraine is helped to secure its future, it will lead to a world of tyranny and chaos. “Russia’s invasion presents a picture of a world of tyranny and chaos that none of us would want to live in,” warned Lloyd Austin, describing what is at stake in this war for the international community.
In his most forceful and unequivocal statement since the start of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the US defense secretary also warned from the Forum’s floor about the risk of global proliferation of nuclear weapons.
“Putin’s cronies of authoritarian leaders are watching. And they may conclude that acquiring nuclear weapons will give them “license to hunt”. And this can lead to a dangerous spiral of nuclear proliferation,” he said.
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