US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has warned against the threat posed by Russia and China and called for Nato to grow on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Speaking in Germany, Mr Pompeo warned that 21st century authoritarianism posed a threat equal to that seen during the Cold War.
“The Chinese communist party is shaping a new vision of authoritarianism, one the world has not seen for an awfully long time. It uses methods to suppress its own people that would be horrifyingly familiar to former East Germans,” Mr Pompeo told an audience in Berlin, speaking just a few metres away from where the wall ran past the German capital’s world-famous Brandenburg Gate.
The Secretary of State also fired off a broadside against Moscow, saying: “Russia, led by a former KGB officer based in Dresden, invades its neighbours and slays political opponents.”
He also responded to French President Emmanuel Macron’s comments earlier in the week that Nato was suffering “brain death” due to Washington “turning its back” on its European partners – comments German leader Angela Merkel described as “drastic”.
Stressing that “we can never take … things for granted”, Mr Pompeo said the 70-year-old alliance too “runs the risk that it will become obsolete” if leaders failed to tackle new challenges.
Dismissing the debate around Macron’s comments as “kerfuffle,” Mr Pompeo acknowledged that “NATO needs to grow and change, it needs to confront the realities of today and the challenges today.”
“The United States and its allies should “defend what was so hard-won… in 1989” and “recognise we are in a competition of values with unfree nations,” he added.
Relations between Berlin and Washington have been severely strained since Donald Trump became US President in 2016, with Mr Trump and Chancellor Angela Merkel often trading barbs on issues such as immigration and racism.
Throughout the speech Mr Pompeo sought to emphasise the common values that unite the two allies.
“If you don’t lead [in the world], if America doesn’t lead, who will?” he asked.
Meanwhile, President Trump has said he is weighing up an invitation from Russian President Vladimir Putin to attend the May 9 Victory Day parade in Moscow.
“I appreciate the invitation,” Trump told reporters on Friday. “It is right in the middle of political season, so I’ll see if I can do it, but I would love to go if I could.”
The event commemorates the May 1945 Allied victory over Nazi Germany. Russia uses the annual parade to show off its military might.
Trump said the event, which next year marks the 75th anniversary of the victory, was “a very big deal.”