In the clash with the US over Ukraine, Putin has a hotline from China

BEIJING – As the United States proceeds to exert maximum pressure on Russia over fears of an invasion of Ukraine, Russia’s leader, Vladimir V. Putin, has found relief from his most powerful partner on the global stage, China.

China has express support to Mr. Putin’s grievances against the US and NATO, joined Russia in trying blocking action on Ukraine at the United Nations Security Council, and set aside American warnings that an invasion would create “global security and economic risks“It is also possible to consume China.

On Friday, Putin will meet in Beijing with China’s leader, Xi Jinping, ahead of the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics that President Biden and other leaders have pointed to. swear to boycott.

Although details of any potential agreement between the two countries have yet to be revealed, the meeting itself – Mr. meeting a world leader for the first time for almost two more years – expected to be yet another public display of the geopolitically friendly relations between the two powers.

China’s promises of economic and political support to Putin could undermine Biden’s strategy of boycotting the Russian leader over his military build-up on the Ukrainian border. It could also end a tectonic shift in competition between the United States and China that could reverberate from Europe to the Pacific.

Evan S. Medeiros, a professor at Georgetown University who has worked for a while, said: “If there’s a war in Ukraine, and the Chinese and Russians are openly linked, suddenly the world we’re in. We are in what looks like a very, very different world.” The National Security Council at the time of Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

“China will be on the eastern front of the long-term global competition,” he added.

Chinese leaders have been closely following the confrontation between Russia and the United States over Ukraine, with reports in Chinese state media highlighting divisions between NATO allies and at times criticize the United States.

The leadership sees the duel as a test of US influence and resolve that could distract Mr Biden from his administration’s focus on China as the century’s top strategic rival. 21. That includes growing US support for Taiwan, the democratic island that China claims as part of its territory.

“In practical terms, China benefits on two fronts,” said Alexander Gabuev, an expert on Russia’s relations with China at the Carnegie Moscow Center. “First, a major security crisis in Europe will suck up a lot of the oxygen that the Biden Team needs to deal with with China. Second, Russia will move closer to China – on Beijing’s terms.

In Washington, administration officials said they were worried that at the summit in Beijing, Xi would give Putin an assurance of China’s support if the United States imposes economic sanctions. economic burden on Russia, as the administration has said. threaten to do.

When the United States imposed similar penalties in 2014 following Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Putin also turned to China as an alternative source of investment and trade, mitigating the impact, at least somewhat. That year, China went ahead and signed 400 billion USD gas deal with Russia, although Chinese officials have negotiated prices in favor of their companies since Mr. Putin was tied.

Maria Snegovaya, a visiting scholar at George Washington University, who co-wrote Atlantic Council article Regarding US sanctions against Russia, events in 2014 pushed Russia closer to China.

She predicts that China will again help ease the impact of sanctions, noting that the country is now a major customer for weapons, fish and woodand in 2020, it is biggest importer Russian crude oil and natural gas.

“This gives Russia more flexibility in case the West imposes sanctions on certain Russian exports,” she said.

While China has traditionally offered a tough deal with Russia, economic ties between the two countries have skyrocketed since Russia’s first invasion of Ukraine.

Last month, China announced that trade with Russia had reached nearly $147 billion, up from $68 billion in 2015, a year after it annexed Crimea and supported separatists in eastern Ukraine. Russia’s ambassador to China, Andrei Denisov, said the two countries could soon finalize an agreement on a second natural gas pipeline like the one called Power of Siberia, which begins flowing in 2019.

Beyond any economic interest, the two countries have found a common cause of trying to undermine American power and influence. Officials and state media in both countries have in recent weeks repeated each other’s attacks on the United States, reflecting an increasingly scathing view of U.S. intentions.

China joins Russia in accusing the United States of inciting the public protests that swept Kazakhstan. Sergei Naryshkin, director of Russia’s foreign intelligence service and a Putin’s hawkish compatriot when both served in the Soviet KGB, last month said that the US was planning to “strongly and maliciously interfere” with the Olympics in Beijing.

The Global Times, a Communist Party nationalist newspaper, drew comments declare that the conspiracy has been broken. “The failed offensive campaign against the Winter Olympics shows the incompetence of the US government,” one headline claimed.

Mr. Xi has met Mr. Putin 37 times as their country’s leader, more than any other head of state. In their last meeting, virtual summit in DecemberMr. Xi called him an “old friend” and the two pledged to build an international political and financial system that would not be dominated by the United States and the dollar.

Chinese officials see Russia’s pushback against NATO as paralleling its own efforts to prevent the United States from building alliances and partnerships in Asia to counter China.

While there are many differences in the geopolitical situation of Ukraine and Taiwan, Mr. Putin use historical myths and sheer military might to justify taking Ukraine resonated among hawks in Beijing. Xi has also stepped up his warning that Taiwan must never claim independence from a unified China under Communist Party rule.

“There is a strong connection between these two flash points,” said Artyom Lukin, a professor of international studies at the Far Eastern Federal University in Russia.

One notable difference is that while the United States has flatly said it will not send troops to defend Ukraine, it has maintained “strategic ambiguity” over Taiwan for decades and has not said whether it whether to carry out armed protection of the island or not. That uncertainty helped prevent a Chinese invasion.

China’s diplomatic and rhetorical backing is not a blank check for Russian designs.

If the United States targets Russia with new sanctions, China could take measurable steps to support its neighbour. As it did in 2014, Chinese banks and companies will need to calculate whether they could be fined if they do business with any of the targeted Russian entities. Such penalties would jeopardize their trade in the United States and elsewhere.

China has also never recognized Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and while the two countries conduct joint military operations, it is highly unlikely that China would explicitly support a military intervention.

Just a few weeks ago, China celebrated the 30th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence after the fall of the Soviet Union. The two countries have strong trade relations, including defense industry. Although Chinese officials have made it clear that the US should deal with Russia’s problem “Reasonable security concerns” In Europe, they also stressed the need for a peaceful resolution of the conflict over Ukraine.

Derek Grossman, Asia security affairs analyst at RAND Corporation, said: “Beijing is in the uncomfortable position of seeing a sovereign state invade a sovereign state. other rights. “That flies in the face of interference, which China, on paper at least, has tried to support.”

Memories linger of the last Olympics in Beijing, the 2008 Summer Olympics. During the opening ceremony, word spread that Russian troops had moved to Georgia, a republic belonging to the Soviet Union. Other old ones are being interfered by by Russia.

“The Chinese government’s attitude is still relatively cautious,” said Cheng Xiaohe, a professor of international studies at Renmin University in Beijing, “but it mainly shows a cautious attitude on the basis of information. sympathize and support Russia.”

Steven Lee Myers reported from Beijing and Edward Wong from Washington. Claire Fu and Rick Gladstone research contributions and reports. In the clash with the US over Ukraine, Putin has a hotline from China

Fry Electronics Team

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