China will 'strengthen' ties with Russia, Beijing's top diplomat says

China will 'strengthen' ties with Russia, Beijing's top diplomat says

China will ‘strengthen and deepen’ ties with Russia ‘no matter how the international situation changes’, Beijing’s top diplomat says as he meets Putin ahead of Ukraine invasion anniversary

  •  Chinese diplomat said Beijing remains ‘committed’ to its relations with Russia
  •  Wang said he looked forward to new agreements during visit to Moscow

China’s top diplomat today said Beijing will ‘strengthen and deepen’ its ties with Russia ‘no matter how the international situation changes’ amid Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Wang Yi said China remains ‘committed’ to ‘preserve’ its relations with Russia during a meeting with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow.

It comes as the Kremlin said Wang will meet Vladimir Putin later today – after the US warned Beijing against providing material support to Russia’s invasion.

‘Putin will receive Wang Yi,’ Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. 

At a meeting with Lavrov earlier on Wednesday, Wang said that he looked forward to clinching new agreements during his visit to Moscow.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and China’s Director of the Office of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission Wang Yi enter a hall during a meeting in Moscow, Russia, on Wednesday

Ukrainian service members ride tanks, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, near the frontline town of Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, on Tuesday

‘I am ready to exchange views with you, my dear friend, on issues of mutual interest, and I look forward to reaching new agreements,’ Wang said through an interpreter.   

‘No matter how the international situation changes, China has been and remains committed, together with Russia, to make efforts to preserve the positive trend in the development of relations between major powers,’ Wang said.

Wang said he would work to ‘strengthen and deepen’ relations between Moscow and Beijing. He provided no specific details on what agreements might be reached during his visit.

Wang’s visit to Moscow came after it emerged that China’s President Xi Jinping is preparing to visit the city himself for a summit with Putin in the next couple of months, sources familiar with the plan said.

During the visit, Xi is expected to urge Putin not to use nuclear weapons and push the Kremlin towards having peace talks with Ukraine – nearly a year after Russia invaded Ukraine.

Preparations for the trip at at an early stage and the timing has not been finalised, the Wall Street Journal said, adding that Xi could visit in April or in early May, when Russia celebrates its Second World War victory over Hitler’s Germany.   

Meanwhile, Putin announced yesterday that Russia was suspending its participation in a landmark nuclear arms treaty with the United States.

Putin also said Russia should stand ready to resume nuclear weapons tests if the U.S. does so, a move that would end a global ban on such tests in place since the Cold War era.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken described Moscow’s decision as ‘really unfortunate and very irresponsible.’

‘We’ll be watching carefully to see what Russia actually does,’ he said while visiting Greece.

It was the second time in recent days the Ukraine war showed it could spread into perilous new terrain, after Blinken told China at the weekend that it would be a ‘serious problem’ if Beijing provided arms and ammunition to Russia. 

Wang is expected to discuss Xi’s trip to Russia while he is in Moscow, sources familiar with the summit planning said. 

The Chinese diplomat yesterday told one of Putin’s closest allies that Beijing’s relationship with Moscow was ‘rock solid’ and would withstand any test in a changing international situation.

China’s ‘no limits’ partnership with Russia has come under scrutiny in the West after the United States said it was concerned that Beijing might be considering supplying weapons to Russia a year since the invasion of Ukraine. 

At a meeting in Moscow, Wang Yi told Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of Russia’s powerful Security Council, that he looked forward to discussions about security. 

‘Chinese-Russian relations are mature in character: they are rock solid and will withstand any test in a changing international situation,’ Wang told ‘Comrade’ Patrushev through a Russian interpreter in remarks aired on state television. 

This aerial photograph shows destroyed residential buildings in the village of Bohorodychne, Donetsk region, on February 21

A Ukrainian serviceman walks an empty street as he patrols area, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in the front line city of Bakhmut, Ukraine, on February 21

Wang said Russia and China should work out new joint steps to ensure the security of both countries, without elaborating.

Patrushev, who is close to Putin, told ‘Comrade’ Wang that Beijing was a top priority for Russian foreign policy and that the two countries must stick together against the West.

‘In the context of a campaign that is being waged by the collective West to contain both Russia and China, the further deepening of Russian-Chinese cooperation and interaction in the international arena is of particular importance,’ RIA cited Patrushev.

Xi has stood by Putin, resisting Western pressure to isolate Russia. Indeed, Chinese-Russian trade has soared since the invasion of Ukraine, and Russia has sold Asian powers including China greater volumes of oil.

Putin and Xi share a broad world view which sees the West as decadent and in decline just as China challenges U.S. supremacy in everything from technology to espionage and military power.

Beijing has refused to condemn Russia’s invasion or atrocities against civilians in Ukraine while strongly criticizing Western economic sanctions on Moscow. At the end of last year, Russia and China held joint naval drills in the East China Sea. 

The United States casts China and Russia as the two biggest nation-state threats to its security. China is viewed by Washington as the gravest long-term ‘strategic competitor’ and Russia as an ‘acute threat’.

‘I want to confirm our continued support for Beijing over the issues of Taiwan, Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong,’ Patrushev said.

Meanwhile, Putin yesterday suspended Moscow’s participation in the New START nuclear Treaty. The pact, signed in 2010 by the U.S. and Russia, caps the number of long-range nuclear warheads the two sides can deploy and limits the use of missiles that can carry atomic weapons.

The despot claimed the West was plotting to achieve ‘limitless power’ and vowed to ‘systematically’ continue with the offensive in Ukraine during an explosive state of the union address in Russia’s parliament. 

He told lawmakers he was addressing them ‘at a time which we all know is a difficult, watershed moment for our country, a time of cardinal, irreversible changes around the world, the most important historic events that will shape the future of our country and our people’. 

He added: ‘The responsibility for fuelling the Ukrainian conflict, for its escalation, for the number of victims… lies completely with Western elites.’

Kyiv quickly hit back at the Russian leader, with presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak saying the speech demonstrated the ‘hopelessness of [Putin’s] position’ and that he was ‘in a completely different reality’.

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