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Chinese Leader Xi and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov Strengthen Strategic Partnership

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The meeting between Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Beijing has underscored the growing importance of the strategic partnership between the two nations. This meeting, which comes amidst Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its subsequent diplomatic isolation, highlights the mutual support and shared opposition to Western democracies that China and Russia have exhibited in recent years.

Strengthening Ties Amidst Isolation

Russia’s increasing economic and diplomatic isolation has led to a deeper reliance on China as a key partner. The two nations have a long history of aligning their foreign policies and have engaged in joint military exercises. They have also worked together to counter initiatives by the United States and its allies aimed at spreading democratic values and human rights in regions such as Venezuela and Syria.

A History of Cooperation

The meeting between Lavrov and Xi is significant as it marks their first in six years. Typically, heads of state do not necessarily meet with visiting ministers. Their last meeting in 2018 took place just weeks before Russian President Vladimir Putin’s state visit to China. This visit was particularly noteworthy as it was Putin’s first overseas trip after winning another highly orchestrated Russian presidential election.

Since then, the economic, trade, and diplomatic relations between China and Russia have continued to strengthen. This is especially evident in the wake of Russia’s war in Ukraine. While China claims neutrality in the conflict, it has emerged as a key economic lifeline for the isolated Russian economy and a staunch diplomatic partner for Moscow, as both nations push back against what they perceive as containment from the West.

A Sign of Mutual Support

During their meeting, Lavrov expressed his appreciation and admiration for China’s achievements under Xi’s leadership. He emphasized that the successes of China and Russia are interconnected, as both nations face attempts to restrain their development by the international community. Lavrov’s words highlight the shared sentiment of support and understanding between the two countries.

Opposing International Events that Exclude Russia

Lavrov and Wang Yi, the Chinese Foreign Minister, held a joint news conference reaffirming their solidarity in international affairs. Lavrov emphasized that Russia and China oppose international events that do not take Russia’s position into account. This statement reflects their mutual stance against initiatives that they perceive as disregarding Russia’s interests.

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Seeking a Peaceful Resolution in Ukraine

The conflict in Ukraine was also a topic of discussion during Lavrov’s visit. He criticized Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s proposed peace formula, stating that it was detached from reality. Zelensky’s formula calls for the complete withdrawal of Russian forces and the return of all occupied Ukrainian territory. However, the peace talks have been hindered by the lack of support from the U.S. due to political obstacles.

China reiterated its support for a ceasefire and called for an international meeting recognized by both Russia and Ukraine. The meeting would involve all parties and discuss peace solutions in a fair manner. While China has maintained dialogue with Switzerland about an upcoming international peace conference, it has emphasized the need for recognition from both Ukraine and Russia.

China and Russia’s Diplomatic Partnership

China and Russia have established themselves as each other’s most important diplomatic partners. They both hold permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council and actively work together to counter democratic initiatives by the U.S. and its allies. This partnership extends beyond diplomacy and includes joint military drills and economic cooperation.

While China has refrained from providing direct military support to Russia, it has backed Russia diplomatically in blaming the West for provoking Putin’s decision to launch the war. China has also refrained from labeling it as an invasion, demonstrating its alignment with the Kremlin’s narrative. China’s economic ties with Russia remain robust, despite sanctions imposed by the U.S. and its allies.

Maintaining Close Exchanges

Wang Yi mentioned that Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin would continue to maintain close exchanges throughout the year. This suggests that there are expectations of visits between the leaders to each other’s capitals. The ongoing exchanges reflect the importance both nations place on their bilateral relations and the efforts made to nurture and strengthen them.

Conclusion

The meeting between Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Beijing signifies the deepening strategic partnership between the two nations. As Russia faces increasing isolation, China has emerged as a key economic and diplomatic partner. The mutual support and shared opposition to Western democracies exhibited by China and Russia highlight the significance of their relationship. Both countries aim to counter initiatives that they perceive as containment from the West and work together to maintain stability in the international arena.

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