(Reuters) – NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida vowed on Tuesday to strengthen ties, saying Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its growing military cooperation with China have created the most tense security environment since World War II.
The comments came in a statement released during Stoltenberg’s trip to Japan following a visit to South Korea, in which he called on Seoul to increase military support for Ukraine and issued similar warnings about rising tensions with China.
“The world is at a historic inflection point in the most severe and complex security environment since the end of World War II,” the two leaders said in the statement.
The document also raised concerns about nuclear threats from Russia, joint military exercises between Russia and China near Japan, and the development of nuclear weapons by North Korea.
Stoltenberg told reporters that a Russian victory in Ukraine would embolden China at a time when it is strengthening its armed forces, “bullying its neighbors and threatening Taiwan.”
He added: “This war is not just a European crisis, but the challenge to the world order.”
“Beijing is watching closely and learning lessons that may influence its future decisions. What is happening in Europe today can happen in East Asia tomorrow.”
China’s Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on these remarks by Stoltenberg.
Responding to similar comments made by Stoltenberg during his visit to Seoul, China said Monday that it is a partner to countries, not a challenge, and that it does not threaten the interests or security of any nation.
In December, Japan unveiled comprehensive plans to bolster its defense capabilities, previously unthinkable changes for a pacifist country that will put it third in military spending after the United States and China.