Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in Malaysia for the ASEAN Foeign Ministers forum, warned about the massive US military build-up in Asia during an interview with Channel News Asia. “The United States is engaged in a very huge military buildup in Asia, including under the pretext of countering the North Korean threat, but the scale of the buildup is way beyond the need and disproportionally huge,” Lavrov said.
As with the US deployment of “first strike” ABM systems in Europe, Lavrov said that “the United States is building missile defense in cooperation with Japan and South Korea, which is not helpful at all…. And the fact that the United States dropped from the ABM Treaty some time ago was a destabilizing factor of global importance. It triggers buildup and brings us back to the mutually assured destruction logic as it relates to strategic stability.”
Lavrov said that Russia “does not want any arms race and Russia would not engage in the arms race. We have enough technological means to provide a not very expensive answer to the efforts to build missile defense, especially when the Iranian nuclear issue has been resolved.”
Part of Russia’s response has been its growing military cooperation with China, which Lavrov said will help to confront new international threats and challenges. Asked about Russia-China military exercises, Lavrov said: “I don’t have statistics, but the number of exercises we conduct on our eastern frontiers together with China or other countries is a very tiny percentage of the number of exercises our American neighbors conduct together with Japan, with South Korea and others in this area. And we are very much concerned about the military buildup taking place in this region, the continued strengthening of the closed military blocs.”
Lavrov said that Russia has been in discussions with China, Brunei, Indonesia, Cambodia, and other Asian nations about “an open, comprehensive, non-bloc security and cooperation architecture,” expressing hopes that this will be acted upon at the forthcoming East Asia Summit in November.