China pledges to back Putin on Russia’s ‘sovereignty and security’

China on Wednesday pledged to back Vladimir Putin on Russia’s ‘sovereignty and security’ as the two countries set to deepen economic ties – prompting Washington to warn Beijing it risks falling apart. find “the wrong side of history”.

President Xi Jinping spoke with his Russian counterpart in a phone call, during which he declined to condemn Moscow’s ongoing massive military assault on Ukraine.

Beijing has been accused of providing diplomatic cover for Moscow by exploding Western sanctions and arms sales to Kyiv, as it escalates tensions in its own region with mounting threats against Taiwan.

On Wednesday, China pledged to back Vladimir Putin on Russia’s “sovereignty and security” as the two countries move to strengthen economic ties. Pictured: Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, poses for photos with the Russian president in Beijing, China, February 4

It was the second reported call between the two leaders since Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine on February 24. The pair last met in February when Putin traveled to Beijing for the opening ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics.

“China is ready to push for the steady and long-term development of bilateral pragmatic cooperation. China is willing to mutually support Russia on core interests and issues of overriding concern, such as sovereignty and security, as well as [achieve] closer strategic cooperation,’ CCTV quoted Xi as saying on the call.

According to CCTV, Xi hailed the “good development momentum” in bilateral ties since the start of the year “in the face of global upheaval and change.”

Beijing was willing to “intensify strategic coordination between the two countries”, Xi reportedly told the Russian tyrant.

The Kremlin said the two leaders agreed to step up economic cooperation in the face of “illegal” Western sanctions.

“It was agreed to expand cooperation in the energy, financial, industrial, transport and other fields, taking into account the situation of the world economy which has become complicated due to the illegal sanctions policy of the ‘West,’ the Kremlin said following the phone call.

But the United States quickly weighed in with a chilling rebuttal to Beijing’s expressed alignment with Moscow.

“China claims to be neutral, but its behavior clearly shows that it still invests in close ties with Russia,” a State Department spokesperson said.

Ukrainian army flying helicopters are seen as Russian attacks continue, on June 15, 2022 in Lisichansk region, Luhansk oblast, Ukraine

Ukrainian army flying helicopters are seen as Russian attacks continue, on June 15, 2022 in Lisichansk region, Luhansk oblast, Ukraine

Ukrainian soldiers fire a French 155mm/52 Caesar caliber self-propelled gun towards Russian positions on a front line in the Donbass region, eastern Ukraine, June 15, 2022

Ukrainian soldiers fire a French 155mm/52 Caesar caliber self-propelled gun towards Russian positions on a front line in the Donbass region, eastern Ukraine, June 15, 2022

Washington was ‘watching China’s activity closely’, including how, nearly four months into Russia’s war in Ukraine, the Asian giant was ‘still echoing Russian propaganda around the world’ and suggesting that Moscow’s atrocities in Ukraine were “staged”, the official said.

“Nations that side with Vladimir Putin will inevitably find themselves on the wrong side of history.”

Just weeks before Putin ordered his troops into Ukraine, Moscow and Beijing agreed to a “limitless” partnership when the two leaders met.

It was reported in March that senior Chinese officials had asked Putin not to invade Ukraine until after the 2022 Winter Olympics.

The West has passed unprecedented sanctions against Russia in retaliation for its invasion of Ukraine, and Moscow sees Europe and the United States as causing a global economic slowdown.

Moscow is also looking for new markets and suppliers to replace large foreign companies that left Russia after the invasion.

The European Union and the United States have warned that any support from Beijing for Russia’s war, or any help to Moscow to dodge Western sanctions, will damage relations.

China and India are two major economies that have not taken part in the retaliatory measures against Moscow, with Putin banking on his country’s relationship with the pair to save it from the economic fallout.

Beijing is Moscow’s biggest trading partner, with trade volumes reaching $147 billion last year, according to data from China Customs.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, 04 February 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, 04 February 2022

The call came ahead of a meeting of French, German and Italian leaders in Kyiv on Thursday as part of a show of European support for Ukraine.

French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi arrived in the Ukrainian capital by train from Poland, according to an AFP journalist traveling with them.

Asked by a journalist about the reasons for his coming to Ukraine, Macron replied: “For a message of European unity”.

In the eyes of Chinese officials, the Europeans have allowed themselves to be led into supporting Ukraine, at the initiative of Washington, in an approach contrary to their interests as Russian gas consumers.

Once bitter Cold War foes, Beijing and Moscow have stepped up cooperation in recent years to counterbalance what they see as US global dominance.

The couple have grown closer in the political, business and military spheres in what they call a ‘limitless’ relationship.

Last week, they unveiled the first road bridge connecting the two countries, linking the city of Blagoveshchensk in Russia’s far east to the city of Heihe in northern China.

The leaders’ call on Wednesday fell on Xi’s 69th birthday and was their first reported communication since the day after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine.

French President Emmanuel Macron, right, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, center, and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi travel on a train bound for Kyiv after leaving Poland on Thursday, June 16, 2022.

French President Emmanuel Macron, right, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, center, and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi travel on a train bound for Kyiv after leaving Poland on Thursday, June 16, 2022.

Meanwhile, one of China’s largest and most capable combat ships is conducting long-range drills in the Sea of ​​Japan, state media reported Thursday, in a demonstration of the growing naval range of China.

The Communist Party newspaper Global Times said the mission was the first for the Type 055 Lhasa destroyer since it was commissioned last year.

It is accompanied by the Chengdu Type 052D Luyang-class destroyer and the Type 903 tanker Dongpinghu, the newspaper said, citing the Japanese Defense Ministry.

The Sea of ​​Japan is located in northern China between the Japanese Archipelago, Sakhalin Island, the Korean Peninsula and the Russian Far East.

The Chinese Navy has been building ships at a breakneck pace and now has the largest naval force in the world by number of hulls.

These ships are also increasingly sophisticated, with the Type 055, also known as the Nanchang class, featuring a stealthy design and packing air defense missiles and anti-ship and anti-land cruise missiles, as well as torpedoes.

China is believed to have ordered five of the first planned Type 055 destroyers.

The US military categorizes the Type 055 as a Renhai-class cruiser and considers them partly as carrier escort. China operates two aircraft carriers and the launch of a third is said to be imminent.

Citing military experts, Global Times said the destroyer was part of China’s military buildup aimed at deterring foreign intervention in the event of an attack on Taiwan, the self-governing island that China claims as its own and threatens to annex by force.

Such a conflict would almost certainly attract the United States, which supplies Taiwan with defensive arms and is legally bound to treat threats to the island as matters of “grave concern”, as well as its most important and important treaty allies. geographically closest. being Japan.

Xi Jinping is believed to be watching the Western reaction to the Russian invasion of Ukraine closely to gauge what kind of response he might expect if he launched his own invasion of Taiwan.

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