Putin, Xi Hold Video Call As Tensions With US Escalate

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China’s President Xi Jinping recently supported Vladimir Putin’s push for Western security guarantees that would prevent NATO from expanding eastwards. Putin and Xi spoke at a time when Moscow is facing increased tensions with the West due to a Russian troop buildup close to Ukraine’s borders. The West has been engaged in diplomatic efforts to stop a possible invasion by Ukraine over the past weeks. The Kremlin denied any plans to invade its neighbor.

Putin demanded that NATO guarantee him that it will not expand into Ukraine and deploy troops or weapons there. He spoke to Xi about “mounting threats against Russia’s national interest from the U.S.A. and NATO bloc. The Russian leader stressed that talks should be held with NATO and the U.S. to establish legally binding security guarantees. Xi replied by saying he understood Russia’s concerns and fully supports our effort to create security guarantees for Russia.

He stated that Moscow’s suggestions have been sent to the U.S. assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Karen Donfried. China and Russia have aligned their foreign policy in recent years to combat the U.S. dominance of the international political and economic order.

Washington and Beijing remain at odds over technology, trade, and China’s military intimidation against Taiwan, which it claims to be its territory.

After Russia annexed Crimea, its relations with the U.S. plummeted to post-Cold War lows and it backed a separatist insurgency within Ukraine’s eastern region. Tensions have risen after Moscow gathered tens of thousands of troops close to Ukraine’s border. This was a move Ukraine and the West feared might signal a new invasion.

Moscow denied plans to attack Ukraine and blamed Ukraine for the military buildup in its war-torn eastern region. Russian officials suggested that Kyiv might attempt to retake the areas seized by rebels using force.

Putin demanded that the West give guarantees that NATO would not expand into Ukraine or deploy its troops there.

Putin and Xi praised relations between Russia and China and claimed it was based on principles such as respecting each other’s rights, not interfering with internal affairs, respect for interests, and a determination to transform the shared border into a belt of peace and neighborliness.

Xi stated that he was grateful to Putin for his efforts to safeguard China’s national interests and strongly opposed any attempts to create a divide between the two countries.

Xi stated that certain international forces arbitrarily interfere in the internal affairs of China and Russia under the guise of democracy and human rights and brutally trampling international law and norms of international relations. Putin stated that they will hold negotiations and take part in the opening ceremony for the Winter Olympic Games.

Britain, Canada, Australia, and the U.S. have all stated that they won’t be sending dignitaries as part of a diplomatic boycott against China’s human rights record. Others have stated that they will not be sending officials due to restrictions on travel in the event of a pandemic.

Xi welcomed Putin’s visit and said that sports could be a way for their countries to boost their ties. He told Putin that he looked forward to the Winter Olympics and was ready to work with him to open a new chapter of post-COVID China/Russia relations.