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China's Xi Jinping meets Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov in show of support against West

Lavrov's visit came after Putin considered China for his first foreign visit following his recent election victory. China has bolstered economic ties with Russia after Western countries imposed sanctions on Moscow for invading Ukraine in 2022.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Beijing Published on: April 09, 2024 17:08 IST
Russia, Sergey Lavrov, China, Xi Jinping, Russia China ties
Image Source : MFA RUSSIA (X) Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov meets Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Beijing: Chinese President Xi Jinping met Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Beijing in a show of mutual support and shared opposition to Western democracies amid Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. Russia's growing economic and diplomatic isolation has made it increasingly reliant on China, as both countries have their own differences with common rival - the United States.

“We would like to express our highest appreciation and admiration for the successes that you have achieved over the years and, above all, over the last decade under your leadership," Lavrov told Xi, according to Russian media. "We are sincerely pleased with these successes, since these are the successes of friends, although not everyone in the world shares this attitude and are trying in every possible way to restrain the development of China — in fact just like the development of Russia,” he added.

This came over a year after Putin visited Beijing for the opening of the 2022 Winter Olympics and the sides signed a pact pledging a “no limits” relationship that has China supporting Russia's line on Ukraine, even while formally urging peace talks. In past decades, both sides have held joint military exercises and sought to rally non-aligned states in multilateral groupings.

Lavrov is on a two-day visit to the Chinese capital, which follows Russian President Vladimir Putin's suggestion last month to consider China for his maiden overseas trip after his recent landslide election victory. This encounter marks the first face-to-face discussion between Lavrov and Xi in six years, a significant event given that heads of state typically do not meet visiting ministers directly.

Lavrov meets Chinese counterpart, slams Ukraine's peace formula

Before meeting Xi, Lavrov met his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Tuesday where both sides reaffirmed solidarity in international affairs. The Russian foreign minister said both countries oppose any international events that do not take Russia's position into account. He also slammed Ukraine, saying that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's “so-called peace formula” was “completely detached from any realities”.

Lavrov is on a two-day visit to the Chinese capital, which follows Russian President Vladimir Putin's suggestion last month of considering China for his maiden overseas trip after his election victory last month. This encounter marks the first face-to-face discussion between Lavrov and Xi in six years, a significant event given that heads of state typically do not meet visiting ministers directly.

Following their meeting, Wang highlighted the countries' ties as being elevated to "the highest level in history," and alluded to their shared views on the United States by saying they would "oppose a Cold War mentality," according to comments made during a joint news conference following their meeting, cited by Chinese state media.

“China and Russia have gone through ups and downs, and both sides have drawn lessons from historical experience and found a correct path to promote the healthy and stable development of bilateral relations," Wang said. “Today's good relations between China and Russia are hard-won and deserve to be cherished and carefully maintained by both sides.”

Both foreign ministers also signed the Plan of Consultation for the year 2024 between the foreign ministers of the two nations for the year 2024. "We talked about contacts through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In your presence, we just signed the next plan of inter-Ministry of Foreign Affairs consultations for 2024, and briefly touched upon certain issues of intergovernmental cooperation in practical areas," Lavrov said in a press conference.

China on Russia-Ukraine War

Wang told his counterpart that China supports holding an international peace conference "recognised by both Russia and Ukraine," with "equal participation by all parties and where all peace plans are discussed fairly," according to a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson. China has expressed neutrality in the conflict but has helped Russia economically and aligned diplomatically against Western countries.

China has taken an equally combative tone against the US, accusing it of provoking Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to launch the war and refrained from calling it an invasion in deference to the Kremlin. China has also said it isn't providing Russia with arms or military assistance amid sanctions from Washington and its allies.

China's peace proposal for the Russia-Ukraine war has found little traction from other nations, in part due to the country's continuing support for Russia and lack of vision for what a future resolution would look like, particularly the fate of occupied Ukrainian territories and their residents. Previous peace conferences, largely supported by Kyiv and excluding Moscow, have also failed to garner significant traction.

Zelenskyy has called for the withdrawal of Russian forces and the return of all occupied Ukrainian territory, but is heavily reliant on support from the US, where the Republican Party majority in the House of Representatives has been holding up a new military aid package.

(with inputs from agencies)

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