Russian officials on Monday denounced comments by French President Emmanuel Macron that Moscow was becoming subservient to China, saying Western countries must get used to a world underpinned by the Kremlin's close ties with Beijing.
The Russian criticism focused on an interview Macron gave to the Paris daily l'Opinion in which he decried the Kremlin's isolation brought on by its invasion of Ukraine more than 14 months ago.
"(Russia) has de facto started a form of vasallisation with China and has lost access to the Baltic that was critical to it as it has precipitated the decision by Sweden and Finland to join Nato," Macron was quoted as saying in the daily.
"This was unthinkable two years ago."
The polemic appeared to focus on talks in Moscow in March between Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping at which they said they were deepening their strategic partnership by entering "a new era" of ties.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Russia's relations with China were those of a strategic partner and had nothing to do with dependence.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said Paris had become preoccupied with Moscow's strengthened relations with China and changes that implied for the world order.
"The West generally appears fearful of the formation of a truly multilateral system of international relations before our eyes, one that includes several separate independent centres, particularly Russia and China," Grushko wrote in a statement on the ministry website.
"Within this evolving landscape of the world it is inevitable that E Macron, along with other leaders in the West will have to reconcile themselves to the reality of strong, equitable and mutually respectful relations between Moscow and Beijing."