Russian President Vladimir Putin told Chinese President Xi Jinping in Friday’s meeting that Russia was keen to increase military ties with Beijing
By Peter Aitken
Russia and China have committed to strengthening ties between the two countries despite Moscow’s failure to quickly and effectively end its invasion of Ukraine, which may strain Beijing in the coming months.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping met via public video conference Friday to discuss the bilateral relationship that has blossomed this year, with no direct mention of Ukraine in their remarks. The meeting focused on the progress both nations have made despite “geopolitical tensions” and a “difficult international situation.”
Putin specifically highlighted a desire to increase the military collaboration between the two countries, saying that it had a “special place” in the relationship. China and Russia completed joint navy drills this week, including procedures and plans for how to capture enemy vessels.
Xi tried to raise concerns over Ukraine, which he referred to as a “crisis,” marking a departure from previous remarks that referred to the invasion as a “situation.”
“Xi Jinping emphasized that China has noted that Russia has never refused to resolve the conflict through diplomatic negotiations, for which it (China) expresses its appreciation,” CCTV reported.
China promised a “no limits” friendship with Russia and refused to criticize Putin or his invasion of Ukraine, instead blamed the West for “provoking” Moscow, and Russia has in turn supported China amid rising tensions over Taiwan.
However, China expert Craig Singleton of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies said that the partnership would not provide the kind of “cure-all” each side wanted for their troubles with the U.S. and Europe.
Following the video conference, Singleton stated that “China and Russia’s ‘no-limits’ partnership’ has clear boundaries.” More specifically, it is difficult to imagine a scenario in which China prioritizes Russia’s needs over its own, at least not without a clear return on investment or strong proof that such assistance will significantly change the momentum of the war in Russia’s favor.
China is facing a difficult home front situation as COVID-
According to U.K. research firm Airfinity, 19 infections have spread rapidly throughout the nation, infecting over 18 million people and killing about 9,000 people per day.
In the future, “Xi’s key challenge may have less to do with ensuring Putin wins, an outcome that appears increasingly improbable, and more to do with determining just how far China is willing to go to ensure Putin does not lose,” Singleton continued.
According to Singleton, China will probably continue to build relationships with Russia, but not at the expense of seriously upsetting the West. Deepening Sino-Russian ties “could force Western nations to re-evaluate their collective willingness to pressure Xi to rein in his support for Putin as the war in Ukraine drags on.”
At a time when the two nations are still at odds over Taiwan, he said, “that could cause more strife in the U.S.-China relationship.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.