NATO's Stoltenberg criticizes muted Chinese response to Navalny death

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg takes part in the CSU's Transatlantic Forum as part of the 60th Munich Security Conference (MSC), held from February 16 to 18, 2024. Sven Hoppe/dpa
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg takes part in the CSU's Transatlantic Forum as part of the 60th Munich Security Conference (MSC), held from February 16 to 18, 2024. Sven Hoppe/dpa
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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has sharply criticized the Chinese government's reaction to the death in prison of Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny.

"Today we had the statement from the Chinese foreign minister saying that the death of Navalny is an 'internal Russian issue.' Well, it's not an internal Russian issue because we all know that this is a result of the authoritarian regime in Moscow," Stoltenberg told reporters at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday.

"Navalny was unjustly arrested by the Russian regime, brutally poisoned and essentially he was sentenced to death because he had the courage to stand up against [Russian President Vladimir] Putin."

Stoltenberg added that the best way to honour Navalny's memory would be to support Ukraine in its war against the ongoing Russian invasion.

He cast China's reaction to Navalny's death as part of a broader pattern of Russia's ally China quietly supporting Putin's war on Ukraine, and that the outcome would have global implications.

"Beijing is watching closely the war in Ukraine. And what happens in Ukraine today can happen in Asia tomorrow. And the more successful Putin is in Ukraine, the more likely it is that [Chinese] President Xi [Jinping] will use force against Taiwan."

Wang Yi, Chinese Foreign Minister, delivers a speech at the 60th Munich Security Conference (MSC). Tobias Hase/dpa
Wang Yi, Chinese Foreign Minister, delivers a speech at the 60th Munich Security Conference (MSC). Tobias Hase/dpa