Moscow voices concerns over the trilateral deal as the EU postpones trade talks with Australia amid the fallout.
Russia has raised concerns over the AUKUS defense deal between Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, warning that the pact threatens global nuclear non-proliferation efforts.
Under the trilateral agreement for the Indo-Pacific region announced last month, Australia will become only the second country after the UK to have access to US nuclear technology to build nuclear-powered submarines.
Moscow said earlier this week that it was seeking more information on AUKUS. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov admitted on Friday that the Kremlin was uncomfortable with the deal.
Moscow is “concerned” about the partnership which will allow Australia “after 18 months of consultations and several years of attempts, to obtain nuclear submarines in sufficient numbers to become one of the top five countries for this type of ‘armaments,’ Russian TASS news agency quoted Ryabkov as saying.
“This is a great challenge for the international nuclear non-proliferation regime. “
Currently, only six countries have nuclear-powered submarines: Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, India and China.
The AUKUS deal also angered China, which wields growing influence in the Indo-Pacific, and angered France, a longtime ally of the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom.
Canberra canceled a multibillion-dollar deal with France to build conventional submarines after signing the pact. It will instead build at least eight nuclear-powered ships with American and British technology.
The cancellation infuriated France, with Paris recalling its ambassadors from Canberra and Washington.
Paris also called on members of the European Union to better defend their interests and, as a bloc, to develop their own military capabilities in the light of the AUKUS agreement.
In solidarity with France, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen asked if the bloc could strike a trade deal with Australia.
Australia’s Trade Minister Dan Tehan said the next round of talks with the EU on such a deal had been postponed on Friday.
Tehan declined to say whether UKUS friction was the cause of the delay.
“I will meet my European counterpart Valdis Dombrovskis next week to discuss the 12th round of negotiations, which will now take place in November rather than October,” he said in a statement.
A spokesperson for the European Commission said: “A one-month delay will also allow us to better prepare.
The Commission has previously said that the AUKUS announcement triggered a “period of reflection”.