Putin, Xi express mutual support as both face rising tensions with West

by mcardinal

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News


Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping presented themselves, and the nations they represent, as bosom friends Wednesday when the leaders of the world’s first- and third-largest nations participated in a highly anticipated virtual meeting.

The two leaders indicated the nations’ bonds were strong, cordial, and mutually beneficial, and celebrated a five-year extension of the “Treaty on Good-Neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation,” the document that has linked China and Russia diplomatically since 2001.

“The multifaceted dialogue mechanism between the two countries’ governments and relevant agencies is working smoothly, and parliamentary cooperation is strengthening,” Putin said in prepared remarks prior to the meeting. “The foreign policy and defense departments maintain ongoing contact.”

The matter of defense was central to the meeting, and China indicated the two nations were working aggressively to address growing tensions with the United States and its allies. Russia has faced international pressure over its buildup of troops at the Ukrainian border, while China and the U.S. have frequently sparred verbally over Taiwan’s independence, the United States’ growing military presence in the Indo-Pacific, and the nations’ economic relationship.

“President Xi pointed out that certain forces in the world are trying to meddle in the internal affairs of China and Russia under the pretext of “democracy” and “human rights” and grossly trample on international law and universally recognized norms governing international relations,” a statement from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs reads. “China and Russia need to launch more joint actions to uphold the security interests of the two sides more effectively.”

In the immediate aftermath of the meeting, The Hill reported that Russia said China supported its demand for NATO to offer more “security guarantees”. These guarantees would include a U.S. and NATO agreement to never place weapon systems in Ukraine. 

Putin announced he would attend the opening ceremonies of the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics, for which the United States has instituted a diplomatic boycott over China’s human rights record.

“I would like to note that we invariably support each other in every aspect of international sports cooperation, including in condemning any attempts to politicize sports and the Olympic movement,” Putin said. “I have no doubt that the upcoming Winter Games will be held at the highest level.”

While both leaders treated Putin’s Olympic visit as an example of camaraderie – the foreign ministry called it “a concrete action to support China’s work as the host” and said Xi “very much looks forward to this ‘get-together for the Winter Olympics’” – the two are expected to meet again during the games to further solidify their partnership.

The White House, which insists there are diplomatic ways to come to terms with both China and Russia, had not yet addressed the Putin-Xi meeting but did announce that National Safety Advisor Jake Sullivan had reiterated to Russian Presidential Foreign Policy Advisor Yuriy Ushakov that the U.S. hoped to use dialogue as a means to address tensions in Ukraine.