Kremlin: Xi Backs Putin’s Invasion of Ukraine, Noting ‘Legitimacy of Russia’s Actions’

( – Chinese President Xi Jinping has expressed direct support for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine, according to the Kremlin’s readout of their phone conversation Wednesday.

“Vladimir Putin laid out his principled assessment of the situation in Ukraine and the tasks being tackled during the special military operation,” read the Russian statement on the call, using Moscow’s euphemistic term for the invasion launched on February 24.

“The president of China noted the legitimacy of Russia’s actions to protect fundamental national interests in the face of challenges to its security created by external forces.”

By contrast, Beijing’s official statement on the call was significantly vaguer and more formulaic with regard to Xi’s position on Ukraine.

“Xi emphasized that China has always independently assessed the situation on the basis of the historical context and the merits of the issue, and actively promoted world peace and the stability of the global economic order,” Beijing’s readout said.


“All parties should push for a proper settlement of the Ukraine crisis in a responsible manner, Xi said, adding that China for this purpose will continue to play its due role.”

Over the months since the invasion began, U.S. officials have repeatedly sought to highlight the seeming inconsistency of China’s stance. Beijing traditionally places top priority on the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity – especially in the contexts of Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Tibet, or Taiwan – yet has not condemned Russia’s military aggression against a sovereign state and the occupation of its territory.

Shortly after the invasion began, China abstained from voting on a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning the attack. (Russia in any case vetoed the measure.)

Beyond rhetorical support from China, concerns emerged in March about possible military collaboration between the two. Media reports citing U.S. security officials indicated that Russia was seeking military aid from China, although officials in Moscow and Beijing denied the claims.

According to the Kremlin, in their conversation the two leaders discussed the “further development of military and defense ties.” It did not elaborate.

National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby told reporters at the White House Wednesday that the U.S. has not “seen any indication that there’s been specific military assistance provided by China to Russia.”

The Putin-Xi call came two days after U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan held talks in Europe with the Chinese Communist Party’s top foreign affairs official, Yang Jiechi. Among the range of issues discussed, according to a senior administration official, Sullivan had again warned China against helping Russia in its war in Ukraine.

Wednesday’s call was the first between the two leaders that has been made public since a phone conversation on the day after Putin launched the invasion. On that previous call, the Kremlin said, Putin had informed Xi of “the start of a special military operation to protect civilians from genocide and ensure the demilitarization and denazification of the Ukrainian state.”

Three weeks earlier, Putin and Xi had met in Beijing and declared a “no limits” friendship between the giant neighbors, pledging to deepen foreign policy coordination including at multilateral forums.

‘The West shoots itself in the head’

In the latest call, Xi reaffirmed that China was “willing to work with Russia to continue supporting each other on their respective core interests concerning sovereignty and security, as well as on their major concerns,” according to the Chinese statement.

It said Xi was also willing to deepen “strategic coordination” and strengthen coordination in multilateral organizations including the United Nations.

“China is also willing to work with Russia to promote solidarity and cooperation among emerging market countries and developing nations, and push for the development of the international order and global governance towards a more just and reasonable direction,” the statement added.

Along with foreign policy coordination, Russia-China economic cooperation has deepened significantly. Putin and Xi noted that the value of bilateral trade “is expected to reach a record high this year.”

They “agreed to expand cooperation in energy, finance, the manufacturing industry, transport and other areas, taking into account the global economic situation that has become more complicated due to the illegitimate sanctions policy pursued by the West.”

At a press briefing in Moscow on Wednesday, foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova described the development of the strategic partnership with China as a Russian foreign policy priority and said attempts to “drive a wedge” between the two had failed.

Zakharova said Russian energy supplies to China were steadily growing.

Alluding to sanctions targeting Russian oil and gas and the impact on energy prices in the West, she commented, “China knows what it wants and doesn’t shoot itself in the foot while the West shoots itself in the head.’


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