Britain warned Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday that its allies would stand together to fight for democracy against dictatorships that it said were more emboldened than at any time since the Cold War.
Speaking in Australia, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said Britain and its allies in the “free world” must respond together to global threats, deepen ties with democracies in the Indo-Pacific, and “face down global aggressors” who were using economic dependence to try to get what they want.
Truss and Britain’s defense secretary, Ben Wallace, met their Australian counterparts in Sydney for the annual Australia-United Kingdom Ministerial Consultations (AUKMIN), where a deal for Australia to acquire nuclear submarines was discussed.
Australia’s defense minister, Peter Dutton, said there was no plan to establish a British military base in Australia. According to USN, The two countries signed deals to fund infrastructure in the region as a counter to Beijing’s influence.
In a joint statement, the ministers expressed concern at Russia’s military build-up on the border with Ukraine and “their absolute support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”. Russia denies planning to invade Ukraine.
In a speech at the Lowy Institute foreign affairs think tank, Truss said Putin should “desist and step back from Ukraine before he makes a massive strategic mistake.” Truss said “invasion will only lead to a terrible quagmire and loss of life, as we know from the 1979-1989 Soviet-Afghan war and conflict in Chechnya.”
Global aggressors “are emboldened in a way we haven’t seen since the Cold War,” Truss said. “They seek to export dictatorship as a service around the world … That is why regimes like Belarus, North Korea, and Myanmar find their closest allies in Moscow and Beijing.”