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Australia, Japan, India and the United States will present a united front against authoritarian countries around the world as Russia and China grow ever closer ahead of a possible invasion of Ukraine.

Foreign ministers from the ‘Quad’ grouping met Friday afternoon in Melbourne alongside Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, pledging to fight disinformation from countries like China, North Korea and Russiaand send more vaccines to developing countries.

The Quad countries must now come to terms with Russia and China, which are increasingly presenting a united front.

While the Quad has traditionally focused on resisting a rising and more aggressive China, there is growing concern among countries that China and Russia present a united front. Russian President Vladimir Putin met Chinese President Xi Jinping last week, with the two leaders issuing a joint statement saying they “oppose further NATO enlargement” and called on the organization to “abandon its ideologized approaches to the Cold War”.

While the four foreign ministers acknowledged that the Quad “maintains the primacy of the Indo-Pacific”, US Secretary of State Tony Blinken expressed concern that events in Ukraine “call into question the basic principles that all Quad partners want to see respected”.

Of the four Quad countries, India would be the least prepared to upset Russia given its history of taking a neutral approach when it comes to Moscow.

Ahead of his meeting with Mr Blinken, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne warned that there were a number of authoritarian countries to deal with.

“More than one authoritarian regime presents itself in the current global climate as a challenge – DPRK [North Korea], China too. And they will be part of our discussions today,” she said. “We strongly support American leadership in these challenges.”

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Norman D. Briggs