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Putin and Xi Condemn the US, Push for Ukraine Settlement

A joint statement issued by the two leaders said a political settlement to the Ukraine crisis was the “right direction” and that both countries were opposed to a drawn-out conflict

Putin and Xi seemed to see eye to eye on all the major issues they discussed in Beijing (Reuters image, May 16, 2024).


Russian President Vladimir Putin’s warm bond with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping appears to have deepened. And Xi is now backing Putin’s call for a political settlement on Ukraine.

The Chinese president greeted Putin on red carpet outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Thursday, where his guest viewed an honour guard of People’s Liberation Army troops and was given a 21-gun salute in Tiananmen Square, while children waved Chinese and Russian flags.

It was a show of force by leaders of the United States’ most powerful rival nations, who vowed to deepen already close military ties and to create a “new era”.  They later issued a joint statement that voiced opposition to the United States on a host of security issues.


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China and Russia declared a “no limits” partnership in February 2022 when Putin visited Beijing just days before he sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine, triggering the deadliest land war in Europe since World War Two.

The joint statement signed by Xi, 70, and Putin, 71, this week proclaimed the US as an aggressive Cold War hegemony sowing chaos across the world.

It voiced a shared view on everything from Taiwan and Ukraine to North Korea and cooperation on new peaceful nuclear technologies and finance.

“The China-Russia relationship today is hard-earned, and the two sides need to cherish and nurture it,” Xi told Putin.

“China is willing to … jointly achieve the development and rejuvenation of our respective countries, and work together to uphold fairness and justice in the world.”


Challenge to US-led global order

Russia, waging war against NATO-supplied Ukrainian forces, and China, under pressure from a concerted US effort to counter its growing military and economic strength, increasingly have found common geopolitical cause.

Xi has told Putin the two have the chance to drive changes the world has not seen in a century, which many analysts see as an attempt to challenge a US-led global order.

Their governments, pushing back against perceived humiliations of the 1991 Soviet collapse and centuries of European colonial dominance of China, have sought to portray the West as decadent and in decline, with China challenging US supremacy in everything from quantum computing and synthetic biology to espionage and hard military power.

But China and Russia face their own challenges, including a slowing Chinese economy and an emboldened and expanding NATO following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Washington casts China as its biggest competitor and Russia as its biggest nation-state threat.

The US views both as authoritarian rulers who have quashed free speech and exerted tight control at home over the media and the courts. Biden has referred to Xi as a “dictator” and has said Putin is a “killer” and even a “crazy SOB”. Beijing and Moscow have scolded Biden for the comments.


Putin sends a message to the world

Putin’s visit comes weeks after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken flew to China to raise concerns about China’s support for Russia’s military.

That trip appears to have done little to dent Xi’s deepening relationship with Putin.

By picking China for his first foreign trip since being sworn in this month for another six-year term, Putin is sending a message to the world about his priorities and the strength of his personal ties with Xi.

The joint statement was described as deepening the strategic relationship, and mentioned plans to step up military ties and how defence sector cooperation between the two nations improved regional and global security.

It singled out the United States for criticism.

“The United States still thinks in terms of the Cold War and is guided by the logic of bloc confrontation, putting the security of ‘narrow groups’ above regional security and stability, which creates a security threat for all countries in the region,” the statement said. “The US must abandon this behaviour.”

It also condemned initiatives to seize assets and property of foreign states, a clear reference to Western moves to redirect profits from frozen Russian assets or the assets themselves, to help Ukraine.

State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel told a daily news briefing that China “cannot have its cake and eat it too” in backing Moscow.

“You can’t want to have good, further, stronger, deepened relationships with Europe and other countries while simultaneously continuing to fuel the biggest threat to European security in a long time,” Patel said, calling Beijing’s help in reconstituting Russia’s defence industrial base “deeply problematic”.


Push for political settlement on Ukraine

After the West imposed the most severe sanctions in modern history on Moscow due to the war in Ukraine, Putin pivoted Russia towards China.

Beijing, once the junior partner to Moscow, remains by far the most powerful of Russia’s friends – and its top buyer of crude.

That closeness has perturbed some in the Russian elite who fear that Russia is now too dependent on China, with which the Soviet Union came to the brink of war in 1969 over a border dispute.

Xi said both sides agreed that a political settlement to the Ukraine crisis was the “right direction” and the joint statement said both countries were opposed to a drawn-out conflict.

Putin, who arrived on Thursday for a two-day visit, said he was grateful to China for trying to solve the Ukraine crisis, adding that he would brief Xi on the situation there, where Russian forces are advancing on several fronts.

Describing his initial talks with Xi as “warm and comradely”, he outlined sectors where the two countries were strengthening ties, from nuclear and energy cooperation to food supplies and Chinese car manufacturing in Russia.

One notable absence from Putin’s delegation was Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller, who was holding talks with Iranian officials.

Putin and Xi participated in a gala celebration marking 75 years since the Soviet Union recognised the People’s Republic of China, which Mao Zedong declared in 1949.

It was not immediately clear if Putin would make any further stops in Asia.


  • Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard



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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years.


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