Russia's Lavrov accuses NATO of fanning tensions in South China Sea

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov waits before a meeting of President Vladimir Putin with members of the Security Council at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia November 18, 2022. Sputnik/Mikhail Metzel/Pool via REUTERS

Dec 1 (Reuters) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday accused NATO of whipping up tensions near China in a way that posed risks for Russia.

"The South China Sea is now becoming one of those regions where NATO is not averse, as they once did in Ukraine, to escalating tensions," Lavrov told a news conference.

"We know how seriously China takes such provocations, not to mention Taiwan and the Taiwan Strait, and we understand that NATO's playing with fire in these regions carries threats and risks for the Russian Federation. It is as close to our shores and to our seas as Chinese territory," he said.

Lavrov said that was why Russia was developing military cooperation with China and conducting joint exercises.

"The fact that NATO members under the leadership of the United States are trying to create an explosive situation there, in the wake of Europe, is well understood by everyone," he said.

Lavrov did not provide evidence to back his assertions, but alluded to the formation of the AUKUS alliance between the United States, Britain and Australia.

He also accused NATO of trying to drag India into what he called an anti-Russian and anti-Chinese alliance at a time when he said the West was attempting to squeeze out Russian influence.

When asked about Lavrov's remarks, India's U.N. Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj said: "We are a country that stands tall and proud and stands tall and proud on its own."

"In the course of the conflict in Ukraine, we have been very clear and consistent right from the outset - we have spoken in one voice that we are for peace. Peace is also a side," she also told reporters in New York.

Reporting by Reuters, additional reporting by Michelle Nichols at the United Nations Editing by Andrew Osborn and Alistair Bell

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.