Russian President Vladimir Putin says Xi Jinping has raised China’s concerns about the Ukraine war

Russian President

Russian President Vladimir Putin

He said he sought to address Beijing’s concerns Thursday about the Ukraine war in his first meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping since the conflict began, which recently led to the outbreak of the conflict. Major battlefield setbacks to Moscow.

Mr. Putin told his Chinese counterpart that Moscow highly values ​​what he called Beijing’s balanced position on it Ukraine crisis. He added that the Kremlin would clarify its position on Ukraine, without making it clear.

“We understand your questions and concerns,” he said in remarks broadcast on Russian state television from the meeting at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Uzbekistan.

He also criticized the United States for what he described as provocations in Taiwan He said Moscow will adhere to the one-China policy, which affirms that the People’s Republic of China is the sole legitimate government of China.

At the meeting, according to the state-run Xinhua News Agency, Mr. Xi said that China and Russia have maintained “effective strategic communication” since the beginning of the year.

“In the face of historical changes in the world and times, as major countries, China is willing to work with Russia to play a leading role and inject stability into the turbulent world,” Mr. Xi said.

Most notably was Mr. Putin’s public admission that China had concerns about Russia’s war in Ukraine, said Craig Singleton, a former US diplomat and senior China fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a conservative think tank based in Washington. He noted that the Chinese government’s official statement to the meeting made no mention of Ukraine, indicating that Beijing had no intention of increasing its support for Russia, even as Moscow’s war efforts stalled.

“China is rightly concerned that its continued support for the Russian invasion has severely damaged Sino-European relations as well as Chinese relations throughout Central Asia, with most countries registering their opposition to Putin’s invasion,” he said.

With the world’s second largest economy and a common interest vis-à-vis the West, China may be Russia’s most important partner as Moscow imposes many international economic sanctions. In their last meeting, just before the start of the war, the two leaders declared that the relationship between the two countries was “limitless.”

At that time, Russia had approximately 200,000 soldiers within walking distance of Kyiv. Since then, invading Russian forces have been driven out of the Ukrainian capital and dealt a number of blows on the battlefield. last week, Ukrainian progress Russian soldiers were defeated in northeastern Ukraine. In the aftermath of it and other defeats it He raised questions about Russian capabilitiesMr. Putin may need to lower his expectations for meaningful help from Mr. Xi or their Central Asian counterparts.

While China has been an important trading partner of Russia, with Oil purchases in Beijing To help offset lower exports to Europe, Beijing has been careful not to conflict with Western sanctions. Chinese leaders have said the country does not sell arms to Russia.

With the West scrambling to turn away from Russian energy sources and imposing sanctions on Moscow, China and India stepped in to bridge the gap. The Wall Street Journal examines how those countries boosted Russia’s revenue from oil sales, and propped up its economy. Image caption: Sharon Shee

The Russian economy, buoyed by windfall gains from higher-priced energy exports, has defied earlier expectations of a severe recession. Russian officials have revised the forecast significantly, recently forecasting a 2.9% drop in GDP this year compared to the previous year. The government had previously said it expected a contraction of about 10%.

However, the outlook remains bleak, economists say, as sanctions on critical imports and an exodus of Western firms are expected to deteriorate the long-term potential of the economy.

Before the meeting, the Kremlin said relations between Moscow and Beijing were stronger than they had ever been, and that trade between the two countries had risen this year by a quarter from 2021, when Russian-Chinese bilateral trade hit a record high of $140. Billion.

Perhaps the most interesting discussions between China and Russia on Thursday took place behind closed doors, said Alex Gabiv, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment and an expert on Russia-China relations. He said the main thrust of the talks was likely around economic partnerships such as Power of Siberia 2, a proposed additional Russian gas pipeline to China, as well as how much Beijing could sell its technology to Russia without imposing sanctions.

Vladimir Putin met Xi Jinping in Uzbekistan, their first personal meeting since the start of the war in Ukraine.


picture:

Alexander Demianchuk / Sputnik / Kremlin Paul / Associated Press

Mr. Putin China will need “To continue the export of semiconductors, without which Russia’s civilian and military industrial capacity cannot continue to function,” said Alicia Garcia-Herrero, chief Asia Pacific economist at Natixis. “This is becoming increasingly difficult due to the expansion of the United States’ export ban on semiconductors.”

The summit in Samarkand, which concludes on Friday, will feature Iran as the ninth member of the regional security bloc established by China, Russia and Central Asian countries in 2001. The leaders are expected to make an announcement on its stance on international and economic relations. Issues. Such statements are likely to increase US concern about an anti-US axis between the two powers that could threaten Washington’s security and economic interests.

Both Chinese and Russian leaders see US foreign policy as part of a grand strategy to contain the rise and influence of the two major powers through America’s economic weight and network of global alliances. They challenged the US-led international order, saying that America’s democratic system is not superior to other forms of government and that Washington is losing its power in the world.

see Beijing America’s commitment to defend Taiwan and its support for Vietnam in its maritime disputes as a threat, while Moscow views Washington’s support for Ukraine and other former Soviet republics. like Georgia as a threat. In their last joint statement, Issued when Mr. Putin and Mr. Xi met in Beijing in February, they opposed NATO expansion and Washington’s efforts to strengthen its alliances in the Indo-Pacific.

Vladimir Putin sees US foreign policy as part of a strategy to contain Russia’s influence.


picture:

Pavel bednyakov / sputnik / kremlin / Shutterstock

“It is a very useful and important strategic alliance,” said Raffaello Pantucci, a senior fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, a defense and security think tank. “They are two strong men who do not share a language. But they do share a worldview, and agree on who their chief enemies and threats are.”

However, China has followed a cautious path in its dealings with Moscow to avoid falling into the trap of any potential sanctions and isolating other countries, such as those in Central Asia, where China is building economic ties. Kazakhstan, the regional economic heavyweight that shares a border with Russia, Refused to support Russia’s actions In Ukraine, a decision that reinforced tensions between the two countries.

said Evan Feigenbaum, vice president at the Carnegie Endowment in Washington and former deputy assistant secretary of state.

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Beijing has signed a new railway agreement with Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, an ambitious plan to connect Central Asian countries with China that has been under discussion for nearly two decades, Xinhua news agency reported Thursday. Beijing sees the new route as an alternative to its current reliance on a route through Russia and Kazakhstan for overland transit to Europe. This has become even more important in light of the Ukraine war.

The railway will connect China, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan with the countries of Asia and the Pacific, paving the way for new economic opportunities. This would be a great addition to the existing east-west railways, the President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev said at the May 27 meeting of the Eurasian Economic Union, a Moscow-led trade and economic bloc made up of former Soviet states.

Mr. Feigenbaum said Central Asian countries would especially express their unease with China if Beijing moved closer to Moscow.

China has attempted to balance these interests by keeping its commitments vague. China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, said in a meeting on Monday with Russian Ambassador Andrey Denisov in Beijing that the country was ready to work with Russia to take the world order in a “more just and rational direction”, without elaborating on any explicit pledges of support. .

write to Keith Chai at keith.zhai@wsj.com and Thomas Grove at thomas.grove@wsj.com

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