MOSCOW, March 16. /TASS/. Plans to expand the AUKUS alliance are causing concern in Moscow as some other countries, including Japan and New Zealand, have expressed interest in joining the security pact between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday.
"Serious concerns are being evoked by the fledgling expansion of the organization in question, AUKUS Plus, in which some of the main membership candidates are Japan, New Zealand and the Republic of Korea," she said at a news conference.
Zakharova also highlighted the efforts by AUKUS member countries to establish pseudo-civic partnerships that are really aimed at fostering confrontation and deterrence, rather than the [purported goals of] developing economic integration and conflict-free joint cooperation.
"What’s really going on here is simply the ‘astroturfing’ of civil society, or falsification in the sense that fake civic organizations are being set up with the aim of providing 'soft power' support for 'hard power' force through spreading the bloc concept behind NATO and all of AUKUS," the diplomat said.
According to Zakharova, the objectives that Western countries are seeking to attain remain obvious. They are "to expand NATO activities to cover a region where they traditionally had no presence for understandable reasons."
AUKUS is a security pact of Australia, the UK and the US that was established in 2021. As part of the agreement, Australia, for example, plans to utilize US technology to build at least eight nuclear-powered submarines that will start coming into service in 2036, and will reequip its armed forces to use US cruise missiles.