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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is bringing Japan closer to NATO, in yet another own goal for Putin

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, right, and Japan's Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi address a media conference on the sidelines of a meeting of NATO foreign ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Tuesday, April 4, 2023.NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, right, and Japan’s Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi on the sidelines of a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels, April 4, 2023.

AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert

  • Japan is in talks to open a NATO liaison office, which would be the first one in Asia.
  • Its foreign minister said this was sparked by Russia’s Ukraine invasion making a “more unstable” world.
  • Putin said he invaded Ukraine to stop NATO’s growth, but the alliance has only been strengthened.

Japan has started talks to open a NATO liaison office, in a move sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, its foreign minister told CNN.

Yoshimasa Hayashi said Japan has started discussions about the office, which would be the first in Asia and would be considered a major blow to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Hayashi said the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was the catalyst.

“The reason why we are discussing about this is that since the aggression by Russia to Ukraine, the world [has] become more unstable,” he said.

“Something happening in East Europe is not only confined to the issue in East Europe, and that affects directly the situation here in the Pacific,” he said. “That’s why a cooperation between us in East Asia and NATO [is] becoming … increasingly important.”

No details have been finalized, Hayashi said.

Nikkei Asia reported that the office would allow NATO to work with Japan and other partners in the region, including Australia, South Korea, and New Zealand.

NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu told Nikkei Asia earlier this month that “among NATO’s partners, none is closer or more capable than Japan,”

The move by Japan is the latest sign of the invasion of Ukraine backfiring for Putin.

Putin partly justified his invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 by saying he wanted to stop NATO’s expansion. But the invasion has only strengthened the alliance.

Finland joined NATO in April, and Sweden is going through the membership process, with both countries abandoning decades of neutrality after Russia launched its attack.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday that Russian actions over the past decade had resulted in NATO getting stronger.

“The transformation of our alliance over the last decade has been nothing short of remarkable,” he said.

Stoltenberg added: “Since Russia illegally annexed Crimea and entered into eastern Ukraine in 2014, we have increased the readiness of our forces.”

Japan moving closer to NATO is not just significant for Japan, but also for the Asia-Pacific region’s relationship with NATO.

No Asian country has joined NATO, but some Asia-Pacific nations have worked with the alliance, including Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and South Korea.

The four countries are known as NATO “Partners,” who work with NATO in some areas but are not alliance members.

China, which has grown closer to Russia over the last year, has repeatedly warned against any Asian country getting too close to NATO, echoing Russia’s stance on the alliance.

Last year, China accused NATO of stirring up conflicts in the Asia-Pacific region, and in March it said that NATO moving eastwards would “inevitably undermine peace and stability.”

Read the original article on Business Insider