June 1, 2023

Moscow: Vladimir Putin and his “dear friend” Chinese leader Xi Jinping scheduled additional talks Tuesday after a Kremlin dinner where the isolated Russian president fawned over his most powerful ally in the face of Western opposition to the war in Ukraine. Just days after an international court accused Putin of war crimes, Washington denounced Xi’s visit, saying it showed Beijing was providing Moscow with “diplomatic cover” to commit more crimes. In his first trip abroad since an unprecedented third term earlier this month, Xi is trying to portray Beijing as a potential peacekeeper in Ukraine, even as he deepens economic ties with his closest ally. Putin and Xi greeted each other as “dear friend” when they met in the Kremlin on Monday, with Russian state news agencies later reporting that they held informal talks for almost 4.5 hours, with official talks scheduled for Tuesday.

In TV comments, Putin told Xi that he respected China’s proposals to resolve the conflict in Ukraine. Xi, for his part, has praised Putin and predicted that the Russians will re-elect him next year.

Ukraine is still awaiting confirmation on whether Xi will speak on the phone with President Volodymyr Zelensky to discuss Beijing’s peace proposal, Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

“It would be an important step. They have something to say to each other,” Vereshchuk told the newspaper in an interview published on Tuesday.

Moscow has been publicly promoting plans for Xi’s visit for several months now. But time has given the Chinese leader’s personal support new meaning after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant on Friday charging Putin with war crimes for deporting children from Ukraine.

Denying the allegations, Moscow said it took the orphans to protect them and filed criminal charges against the ICC prosecutor and judges. Beijing said the order reflected double standards.

“The fact that President Xi is traveling to Russia days after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for President Putin shows that China does not feel compelled to hold the Kremlin accountable for the atrocities committed in Ukraine,” he said. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.

“Instead of even condemning them, he would rather provide diplomatic cover for Russia to continue to commit these heinous crimes.”

White House press secretary John Kirby said Xi should use his influence to pressure Putin to withdraw troops from Ukraine, and Washington was concerned that Beijing might call for a ceasefire instead, allowing Russian troops to stay.

China has come up with a proposal to resolve the Ukrainian crisis, which the West has largely dismissed as a ploy to buy time for Putin to regroup his forces and consolidate his grip on the occupied lands.

Foreign policy analysts say that while Putin is counting on Xi’s strong support on the Ukraine issue, they doubt that his visit to Moscow will result in any military support.

Washington has said in recent weeks that it fears China might arm Russia, which Beijing has denied.

Yu Jie, a senior fellow at the Asia-Pacific Program at Chatham House in London, said there were no high-ranking members of the People’s Liberation Army in Xi’s entourage.

“This could be a clear signal that Beijing is unlikely to provide direct military support to Moscow, despite the claims of some experts,” she said.

Kyiv, which says the war cannot end until Russia withdraws its troops, cautiously welcomed Beijing’s peace proposal when it was unveiled last month.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that China’s arming Russia could lead to World War III and urged Xi to talk to him.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *