NATO chief calls on members to stand together against rising authoritarian powers

Russia, Iran, China, and North Korea are said to be increasingly aligned, according to Jens Stoltenberg

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has warned that an “authoritarian” alliance of several defiant countries is growing stronger. He said that Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea are becoming “more and more aligned,” representing a growing threat for the West.

In an interview on BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg, Stoltenberg argued that “China is propping up the Russian war economy, delivering key parts to the defense industry, and in return, Moscow is mortgaging its future to Beijing.” He further claimed that Russia provides Iran and North Korea with technology in exchange for ammunition and military equipment.

The NATO boss then went on to suggest that the bloc needs to deepen cooperation with countries like Japan and South Korea to “stand up against this stronger alliance of authoritarian powers.”

Moscow and Beijing, which have enjoyed close ties since the Soviet times, recently pledged to increase bilateral cooperation in different fields. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping declared in 2022 that their strategic partnership has “no limits.”

China has refused to blame Russia for the Ukraine conflict and has repeatedly accused the US and NATO of “Cold War mentality” and trying to impose their will on the rest of the world. Putin said in February that the West has retained its “colonial habits.”

Iran has admitted to having sent a small amount of drones to Russia before Moscow launched its military operation in Ukraine in February 2022. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, however, said that the Russian army uses only domestically produced weapons against Kiev’s troops.

Pyongyang and Moscow agreed to increase cooperation during Kim Jong-un’s visit to Russia in September 2023. North Korea has denied that it shipped rockets and shells to Russia and blasted the US for “persistently spreading a groundless rumor of arms dealings.” The Kremlin also dismissed the reports of military aid from Pyongyang.

Both Moscow and Beijing have blamed the current crisis in Ukraine on NATO’s expansion in Europe, with the Chinese Defense Minister Dong Jun stating that the US was targeting Russia and China while “seeking to retain its hegemony around the globe.” Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu warned last year that “the West is now looking at potentially spreading” the conflict to the Asia-Pacific region.