January 28, 2023

Xi and Putin seek greater cooperation, but Russia’s failures in Ukraine could strain relations, experts say

Russia and China committed to strengthening relations between the two countries, although Moscow failed to do so quickly effectively ending its invasion of UkraineWhich could strain Beijing in the coming months.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping met via video conference on Friday to discuss bilateral ties that have blossomed this year, with no direct reference to Ukraine in their remarks. The meeting focused on the progress made by the two countries despite “geopolitical tensions” and the “difficult international situation”.

Putin specifically highlighted his desire to increase military cooperation between the two countries, saying it has a “special place” in the relationship. China and Russia Completion of joint naval exercises This week, including actions and plans for how to capture enemy ships.

Xi tried to raise concerns about Ukraine, which he referred to as a “crisis,” marking a departure from previous statements that referred to the invasion as a “situation.”

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CCTV reported, “Xi Jinping emphasized that China has noticed that Russia has never refused to resolve the dispute through diplomatic negotiations, for which it (China) expresses its appreciation.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, speaks during a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping via video conference at the Kremlin in Moscow on Friday, December 30, 2022.
(Mikhail Klementiev, Sputnik, Kremlin pool photo via Associated Press)

China I promised an “infinite” friendship. With Russia refusing to criticize Putin or his invasion of Ukraine, instead blaming the West for “provoking” Moscow, Russia in turn supported China amid rising tensions over Taiwan.

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However, China expert Craig Singleton of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies said the partnership would not provide the kind of “panacea cure” each side wants for its problems with the United States and Europe.

Svetlana, 57, carries a cart with buckets full of water, as they have lived without running water and electricity for more than 6 months in Stary Saltyv, Kharkiv region, Ukraine, Thursday, December 29, 2022.

Svetlana, 57, carries a cart with buckets full of water, as they have lived without running water and electricity for more than 6 months in Stary Saltyv, Kharkiv region, Ukraine, Thursday, December 29, 2022.
(AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

“There are clear limits to the ‘borderless’ partnership between China and Russia,” Singleton wrote after the video conference. More specifically, it is hard to fathom a scenario in which China places Russia’s needs above its own, at least not without a clear return on investment or compelling evidence that such assistance would meaningfully shift the momentum of the war in Russia’s favour.

A Chinese pilot flew a 20-foot USAF craft during operations

China is facing a difficult situation on the home front COVID-19 infections have exploded Across the country, with more than 18 million people infected and nearly 9,000 dying every day, according to British research firm Airfinity.

Residents line up outside a pharmacy to buy antigen test kits for coronavirus disease, in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, China on December 15, 2022.

Residents line up outside a pharmacy to buy antigen test kits for coronavirus disease, in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, China on December 15, 2022.
(Reuters / file photo)

“The main challenge for Xi going forward may be less in making sure Putin wins, an outcome that seems increasingly unlikely, and more in knowing how far China is willing to go to make sure Putin doesn’t lose,” Singleton added.

China would likely continue to develop relations with Russia, Singleton suggested, but not in danger of seriously antagonizing the West. “As the war in Ukraine continues, deepening Sino-Russian relations may force Western countries to reassess their collective willingness to pressure Xi to rein in his support for Putin.”

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“This could lead to more friction in relations between the United States and China at a time when the two countries remain at odds over Taiwanhe finished.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.