NATO Hopes to Play Leading Role in Asia-Pacific Region: Lavrov

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NATO has stopped claiming its defensive essence and now hopes to play a leading role in the Asia-Pacific region, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters on Sunday following his participation in the East Asia Summit.

"NATO no longer says that it is a purely defensive alliance. It was a defensive alliance when the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact existed. They have moved their line of defense since then, when there is no longer the Warsaw Pact or the Soviet Union. It is unclear from whom they were defending themselves.

"They have moved this line of defense closer to our borders several times, and now they announced at the Madrid summit this summer that they have global responsibility and that the security of Euro-Atlantic and the Indo-Pacific region are indivisible," the top diplomat said.·

"That is, in fact, they are now claiming that they will play a leading role here (in the Asia-Pasific region) and are already shifting the so-called defense line to the South China Sea," Lavrov added, TASS reported.

The Russian foreign minister drew attention to a tendency to militarize the region by matching the efforts of local US allies, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, with an expanding NATO presence. According to him, the Russian side frankly outlined its assessments at the East Asia Summit summit, and approaches similar to the Russian ones were voiced by Beijing as well.

"However, unfortunately, this will hardly make the US and its allies take into account the interests of most of the countries that are here," Lavrov continued, "But we will continue to convey our position. It is met with understanding within ASEAN, although there is no consensus in ASEAN as well on how to proceed in the security sphere in this region. So if the goal is to sow doubt in ASEAN and try to undermine their monolithic position, then the Americans have achieved their goal."

The Russian top diplomat noted the position of most ASEAN countries, which, according to him, were focused on defending their own interests and not subordinating ASEAN's actions to the interests of extra-regional players. "Our partners highly estimate the position of Russia, the position of China, which are in favor of preserving the central role of ASEAN," Lavrov summarized.