Grasping at straws: Russia seeks Chinese support in Ukraine

By Salaam Times and AFP

Ukrainian citizens take part in a protest in support of Ukraine in front of the Russian embassy in Santiago, Chile, on February 26. [Martin Bernetti/AFP]

Ukrainian citizens take part in a protest in support of Ukraine in front of the Russian embassy in Santiago, Chile, on February 26. [Martin Bernetti/AFP]

BEIJING -- Pressure is building on China to take a firm stance on Russia's widely scorned war in Ukraine, but so far officials in Beijing have remained "neutral" at best.

The United States and Europe have expressed growing concern about Beijing's friendship with Moscow and have urged China to pull its lifeline from an increasingly isolated Russia.

But, three weeks into the invasion of Ukraine -- with civilian casualties mounting and allegations of Russia preparing to use banned chemical weapons and committing war crimes -- Beijing has shown few signs of abandoning its ties with the Kremlin.

Washington has driven Russia to the cusp of default since Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of neighbouring Ukraine on February 24, strangling its economy with sanctions and evicting the country from the global payment system.

Rescuers remove debris from a building damaged by shelling in Kharkiv on March 16, amid Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine. [Sergey Bobok/AFP]

Rescuers remove debris from a building damaged by shelling in Kharkiv on March 16, amid Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine. [Sergey Bobok/AFP]

A fireman inspects the damage in an apartment building that was hit by the debris from a downed rocket in Kyiv on March 17. [Fadel Senna/AFP]

A fireman inspects the damage in an apartment building that was hit by the debris from a downed rocket in Kyiv on March 17. [Fadel Senna/AFP]

Isolated, bleeding money and with its currency in free-fall, Russia has grasped for the friendship of one of its few remaining allies -- China.

Russia last week asked China for economic and military aid, US officials said.

It is seeking military equipment and support for the war in Ukraine, the officials told The New York Times on condition of anonymity.

It also asked for additional economic assistance to help counteract broad sanctions imposed by the US, European and some Asian governments, one official said.

The officials declined to provide additional details on Moscow's requests or any response by Beijing in order to keep secret the source of the intelligence, the newspaper reported Sunday (March 13).

The reports came hours after the White House warned Beijing would face severe "consequences" if it helps Moscow evade sanctions.

Beijing refused to directly address the reports, and instead accused Washington of maliciously spreading "disinformation" over China's role in the Ukraine war.

China's self-interest

Since the war erupted, China has refused to condemn Putin's actions -- or even describe the invasion as a "war".

Instead, as recently as last week Beijing called the partnership between the two "rock-solid".

In its public diplomacy, Beijing has sought to position itself as a neutral player, calling for peace negotiations and condemning NATO for militarily assisting Ukraine.

But US media reports, citing intelligence briefings, suggest Beijing may be ready to pull the Russian economy back from the brink of default and even meet Moscow's entreaties for weapons and logistical support for its struggling troops in Ukraine.

Analysts say Chinese President Xi Jinping's challenge is to pick a pathway through the sudden chaos unleashed on the international order by Putin's actions -- and ensure China comes out ahead of the United States.

Moscow has dangled the prospect of cheap oil and gas to its energy-hungry neighbour, while the West vows to unhook itself from Russian hydrocarbons.

"China is in it for self-interest, period," said Alexander Gabuev, senior fellow at the Carnegie Centre Moscow. "A weaker Russia is probably a Russia where you can do more that serves your interests, since you have more leverage."

But for all the chumminess between Xi and Putin, the two countries have a long history of mistrust.

"China's stance is not so much pro-Russia as anti-US," Gabuev said.

"Why would China even consider not to support Russia, or even worse, undermine [its] alliance with Russia?" asked Alexander Korolev, senior lecturer in politics and international relations at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.

"I think China is unlikely to change its position, and this will indicate a deeper divide of global geopolitics."

'No good for China'

Indications of China's next steps are being scoured out from the oblique comments of its diplomats.

On Tuesday, state media carried a message from Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi stating, "China is not a party to the crisis, still less wants to be affected by sanctions."

Already global commodity prices have surged -- especially of wheat and corn, which flows from the Russia and Ukraine breadbasket to China.

Chinese Ambassador to the United States Qin Gang Tuesday attempted "to explain fully and dispel any misunderstandings and rumours" about Beijing's stance on Ukraine in an opinion piece in the Washington Post.

"As a staunch champion of justice, China decides its position on the basis of the merits of the issue," he wrote.

"On Ukraine, China's position is objective and impartial: The purposes and principles of the UN Charter must be fully observed; the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, including Ukraine, must be respected; the legitimate security concerns of all countries must be taken seriously; and all efforts that are conducive to the peaceful settlement of the crisis must be supported."

"Conflict between Russia and Ukraine does no good for China," he said.

But rather than denounce Putin's unjust war, Qin appealed to Washington to "not support 'Taiwan independence' separatism in any form".

Linking Russia's invasion of Ukraine and China's position on Taiwan is "a mistake", he said.

"Ukraine is a sovereign state, while Taiwan is an inseparable part of China's territory."

Democratic Taiwan has watched the Ukraine situation closely as Beijing claims sovereignty over the island and vows to seize it one day -- by force if necessary.

Beijing has ramped up military, diplomatic and economic pressure on Taiwan since Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen came to power in 2016, as she rejects China's claim on the island. She was re-elected in 2020.

Putin just days before ordering troops to invade, said Ukraine was a "country created by Russia" and that it was wrong to let the Soviet Union fall apart and let Ukraine and the other Soviet republics go their own way.

Do you like this article?

8 Comment

Comment Policy * Denotes required field 1500 / 1500

Russia realizes now that it has made a big mistake. Putin is also stupid enough as he thoughtlessly decided to invade Ukraine. Now countries of the world have two choices to make: First choice is to prolong this war and continue to defeat Russia and help Ukraine. By selecting this choice, Russia's economy will collapse, but all of Ukraine's public infrastructure will be destroyed instead, millions more Ukrainians will be displaced, and thousands of civilians and soldiers from both sides will be killed. In addition, Russia is likely to resort to the use of nuclear or even hydrogen weapons, in which case all European countries will be in great danger, and this war between NATO and Russia will become an irreversible world war. The second choice is immediate peace. NATO must provide guarantee to Russia that Ukraine will never become a member of NATO, or even if it does, it will be a conditional membership. All sanctions against Russia must be lifted and Russia must leave all parts of Ukraine immediately. If all this happens, Russia must also provide war and destruction compensations to Ukraine.


Part 6: Ukraine must strengthen Crimea's independence in elections in the presence of international observers. The process will include removing any ambiguity about the status of The Black Sea Fleet forces in Sevastopol. The above elements are principles, not prescriptions. People familiar with the politics and events of the region know that these principles will not be acceptable to all parties. The test is not absolute satisfaction but balanced dissatisfaction. If a solution to this significant problem is not found based on these or similar elements, the world will move towards another long and bloody war that is not far off.


Part 5: Putin must acknowledge that any dissatisfaction or concern will lead to another Cold War, so he is using military means. Therefore, the United States must restrain from treating Russia as an unjust country which will help in normalizing the situation. Putin is considered one of the most severe strategists in Russia's history, so understanding American values ​​and behavior would not suit him. Nor has the history and behavior of Russia proved to be a strong point for US policymakers. Leaders of all parties involved should consider the consequences of such decisions, not take positions against each other and provoke war. Here I present a few of my views as a result that is consistent with the security values ​​and interests of all parties involved: 1. Ukraine must have the right to choose its economic and political allies, including Europe, freely. 2. Ukraine should not join NATO, a position I took seven years ago when the issue arose. 3. Ukraine must be independent and form any government that is in line with the clear intentions of its people. The wise and prudent Ukrainian leaders will then pursue a policy of reconciliation between different parts of their country. Internationally, they should choose a situation similar to Finland's. There is no doubt about Ukraine's strong independence, but most likely, they will cooperate with the West in many areas, but if they want to be safe, they must be cautious and renounce hostility with Russia.


Part 4: only 23 years have passed since Ukraine has got independence, and that country has been under foreign governance since the 14th century. Surprisingly, Ukrainian leaders have not yet learned the art of reconciliation and do not even consider their history and their past mistakes. Ukraine's post-independence domestic politics and policy clearly show that the root of the problem lies in the politicians of the eastern and western parts of Ukraine, as they live in areas of the country where the inhabitants are opposed to the decisions and intentions of the opposing parties. At the same time, they impose all their intentions and decisions on it. The root cause of the problem is the political rivalry between Viktor Yanukovych and his fiercest political rival, Yulia Tymoshenko. They represent two parts of Ukraine and have no interest in sharing power or standing in a centralized state. In such a tense situation, it would be prudent for the United States to pursue a policy of cooperation, integration, and reconciliation between the two opposing factions of the country (East and West). We must strive for reconciliation and compromise instead of sowing discord and division in this country. Russia and the West, and at least not all internal opposition groups in Ukraine, have adhered to these principles, which has exacerbated the situation. Russia will have no choice but to isolate itself when many of its borders are insecure. For the West, the devaluation of Vladimir Putin is not


Part III: Ukrainians will be the decisive elements of this claim. They live in a country with a complex history and multilingual structure. The western part of Ukraine joined the Soviet Union in 1939 when Stalin and Hitler divided the spoils. Crimea, home to 60% Russians, became part of Ukraine in 1954 when Ukrainian-born Nikita Khrushchev gave the award as part of a celebration of the 300 anniversary of Russia's agreement with the Kazakhs. Most of the people in western Ukraine are Catholics and speak Ukrainian. At the same time, in the eastern part of the country, the Russian Orthodox religion is predominant, and the people of these regions speak Russian. If the east part of Ukraine makes an effort to dominate the west, as we have seen, it will eventually lead to civil war or the disintegration of Ukraine. If Ukraine were to be considered part of the war between East and West, it would eliminate for decades the possibility of Russia and the West, especially Russia and Europe, falling into the international system of cooperation.


Part 2: The West must understand that Russia will never accept Ukraine as a foreign and independent country because the history of Russia started from the same Kyiv-Russia that is now Ukraine. The site is also considered a source of Russian religion. Ukraine has been a part of Russia for centuries, and their histories have long been intertwined. Some of the most important battles for Russia's independence, which began with the Battle of Poltava in 1709, took place on Ukrainian soil. The Black Sea Fleet is a Russian naval force that is also Russia's only means of demonstrating its power in the Mediterranean. The force is based in Sevastopol, Crimea, based on a long-term lease. That is why prominent opponents, such as Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Joseph Brodsky, have argued that Ukraine is an integral part of Russian history or a part of Russian territory. The European Union must recognize that its bureaucratic turmoil and adherence to the strategic element of domestic policy in negotiations on Ukraine's relations with Europe will turn these negotiations into a crisis. A country's foreign policy is the art of setting its priorities.


How can the crisis of Ukraine come to an end? Part 1: the main discussion regarding Ukraine is the occurrence of war in that country; however, do we know which way are we going? I have seen four big wars in my life as all of them have begun with the willingness of the government and support of the people, but we did not know how to end those wars, and we unsuccessfully left three of them unilaterally. The only exam for our policy may be how to end the wars we have created and not how to begin them. It has been for a long time as the issue of Ukraine is coming forward as a show. If the country joins east or west, in both cases, they will face a crisis; however, for their sustainability and prosperity, it is important to act as an economic bridge instead of becoming a battlefield between these two big blocs. Russia should realize that if they would interfere in the affairs of Ukraine, make the country their colony, and or they would expand their borders toward Ukraine, once again, Moscow will repeat the circle of bilateral pressures with the West and the United States.


This news is exciting for me. The two human beings from two different points of the Earth who are hostile to each other on the Earth are hugging each other in space. This proves that ordinary Americans, ordinary Russians, ordinary Europeans, ordinary Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, etc., have no problem with each other. Instead, they are the politicians who make the people fight, maintaining their power. "Today, the idea of ​​a Russian-American brotherhood is hard to imagine, but it is possible in the space beyond Earth. Russian astronauts have been warmly welcomed at the International Space Station. NASA Images show that Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev, and Sergei Korsakov arrived at the International Space Station with their Soyuz capsule. They met by their Russian counterparts Anton Shkaplerov and Piotr Dobrov and American Mark Vande Hei, Marcus Marshburn, Raja Chari, Kayla Barron, and Matthias Maurer of Germany, welcomed each other. They shook hands, cheered, and took memorable photos. German astronaut invited them to his birthday party. Maurer, who celebrated his 52nd birthday in space on Friday, said he wanted to invite the entire crew for dinner. "I want to offer him the best, the German astronaut who is a resident of the German state of Saarland has said, "I want to offer them with the best things, the Saarland food."