Russia, China meet to deepen ties
Visit highlights the possibility of more support from Beijing in ongoing conflict
Russia and China showcased their deepening ties Wednesday in meetings others are watching for signs that Beijing might offer the Kremlin stronger support for its war in Ukraine.
The visit by Wang Yi, the Chinese Communist Party’s most senior foreign policy official, to Moscow comes as the conflict in Ukraine continues to upend the global diplomatic order.
Relations between Russia and the West are at their lowest point since the Cold War, and ties between China and the U.S. are also under serious strain. Moscow suspended its participation in the last remaining nuclear arms control treaty with Washington this week.
And the U.S. expressed concern that China could provide arms and ammunition to Russia.
Speaking at the start of talks with Wang, Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed ties between the two countries and added that the Kremlin expects Chinese President Xi Jinping to visit Russia.
The Russian leader, whose own rule over Russia is imperiled by the war, noted escalating international tensions, adding that “in this context, cooperation between the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation on the global arena is particularly important for stabilizing the international situation.”
While Wang said “Chineserussian relations aren’t directed against any third countries and certainly can’t be subject to pressure from any third countries,” the specter of the war and how it has galvanized the West and deepened its divide with Russia hung over his meeting with Putin.
For instance, Wang emphasized that Moscow and Beijing both support “multipolarity and democratization of international relations” — a reference to their shared goal of countering the perceived U.S. dominance in global affairs.
Earlier Wednesday, Wang held talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. “Our ties have continued to develop dynamically, and despite high turbulence in the global arena, we have shown the readiness to speak in defense of each other’s interests,” Lavrov
Wang responded in kind, underlining Beijing’s focus on deepening ties with Russia — a relationship it has said has “no limits.”
China has pointedly refused to criticize the invasion of Ukraine while echoing Moscow’s claim that the U.S. and NATO were to blame for provoking the Kremlin . The government in Beijing also has blasted the sanctions imposed on Russia after it invaded Ukraine.
Russia, in turn, has staunchly supported China amid tensions with the U.S. over Taiwan.
The two nations have held military drills showcasing their defense ties. China, Russia and South Africa are holding naval drills in the Indian Ocean this week.
A Russian frigate, the Admiral Gorshkov, arrived in Cape Town in recent days sporting the letters Z and V on its sides, letters that mark Russian weapons on the front lines in Ukraine and are used as a patriotic symbol in Russia.
The rapprochement has worried the West. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said any Chinese involvement in the Kremlin’s war effort would be a “serious problem.”
Asked Wednesday whether NATO has any indication that China might provide arms or other support to Russia’s war, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also told The Associated Press: “We have seen some signs that they may be planning for that and of course NATO allies, the United States, have been warning against it because this is something that should not happen. China should not support Russia’s illegal war.”