Russia-Ukraine War: Live Updates – The New York Times


Credit…Haiyun Jiang/The New York Times

As President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia seeks to counter the crush of Western sanctions by bolstering Moscow’s ties with its biggest and most important ally, China, China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, on Thursday gave a full-throated endorsement of Moscow and Mr. Putin’s leadership.

In a telephone call with his Russian counterpart, Sergey V. Lavrov, Mr. Wang said that any attempt to block the progress between the two countries would never succeed, according to a statement released by China’s foreign ministry. Beijing, he added, firmly supported Mr. Putin’s stewardship of Russia and wanted to strengthen China’s relations with Moscow.

Some American officials had hoped that Mr. Putin’s recent veiled threats about using nuclear weapons in Ukraine might drive a wedge between China and Russia.

Mr. Putin sought to downplay the possibility of nuclear escalation in a speech on Thursday, saying Russia had “no need” to use a tactical nuclear weapon. “There’s no sense for us, neither political nor military,” he said. Kremlin assurances about military plans have in the past proven to be unreliable.

In the phone call with the Russian foreign minister, Mr. Wang emphasized that ties between the two countries had seldom been stronger.

While the Chinese statement did not specifically mention the war in Ukraine, the robust support for the Kremlin appeared to contrast with China’s stance in September, when Mr. Putin met China’s leader, Xi Jinping, in Uzbekistan. During their meeting, Mr. Xi appeared to show some restraint in his support for Russia, and withheld a public endorsement of Mr. Putin’s war.

Mr. Putin acknowledged last month that China had “questions and concerns” about Russia’s war in Ukraine, a notable, if cryptic, admission that Moscow lacked the full backing of its most powerful partner on the world stage. Mr. Xi had pledged a friendship with “no limits” just three weeks before Russia invaded.

China and Russia have a symbiotic relationship and the two countries have been seeking to show a united front against what they consider American hegemony.

Moscow derives important advantages from its relationship with Beijing, and the pain inflicted by Western sanctions has made Chinese support all the more imperative. China has also emerged as an important buyer of Russian commodities, purchases that have helped replenish Moscow’s coffers.

Beijing, however, has been engaged in a delicate balancing act. It wants to project strength in its increasingly fraught competition with the United States. At the same time, providing major backing to Russia, economically or militarily, risks violating Western sanctions and undermining China’s economy.

The Russian foreign ministry put out a statement that also stressed the strong ties between the two countries, saying Russia and China would continue to work together on the U.N. Security Council and in the Asia-Pacific region as a whole.

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