A Chinese diplomat says NATO should stick to what he claimed was a promise not to expand eastward.

In a speech on Saturday, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng criticized the far-reaching Western sanctions imposed on Russia after it invaded Ukraine and said the root cause of the war in Ukraine “lies in the Cold War mentality and power politics.”

Echoing a Kremlin talking point, the Chinese envoy said if NATO’s “enlargement goes further, it would be approaching the ‘outskirts of Moscow’ where a missile could hit the Kremlin within seven or eight minutes.”

“Pushing a major country, especially a nuclear power, to the corner would entail repercussions too dreadful to contemplate,” he said.

He expressed an understanding for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s oft-repeated position, saying that NATO should have disintegrated and “been consigned to history alongside the Warsaw Pact.”

“However, rather than breaking up, NATO has kept strengthening and expanding, and intervened militarily in countries like Yugoslavia, Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan,” he said. “One could well anticipate the consequences going down this path. The crisis in Ukraine is a stern warning.”

He said Chinese President Xi Jinping in talks with U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday urged the parties in Ukraine to demonstrate “political will and keep the dialogue and negotiation going. The U.S. and NATO should also have dialogue with Russia to address the crux of the Ukraine crisis and ease the security concerns of both Russia and Ukraine.”

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