As Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday wrapped up a three day visit to Moscow where he held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, air raid sirens have blared across the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, and in northern and eastern Ukraine with reports of drone attacks.
The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said in its daily update on the conflict that Ukraine’s armed forces had destroyed 16 out of 21 Shahed-136 drones launched by Russia overnight.
Meanwhile in Washington, NSC Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby said that if China really wants to be helpful, it should be urging President Putin to get out of Ukraine.
On Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Kyiv has invited China to talks and is waiting for an answer from Beijing, as Russian President Vladimir Putin hosts China's Xi Jinping in Moscow.
“We offered China to become a partner in the implementation of the peace formula. We passed over our formula across all channels. We invite you to dialogue. We are waiting for your answer,” Zelensky told a press conference, adding that: “We are receiving some signals, but there are no specifics yet.”
President Xi has left Moscow on Wednesday making a strong show of solidarity with Putin against the West, and agreeing with his Russian counterpart on shaping a new world order.
Xi and Putin referred to each other as dear friends, promised economic cooperation and described their countries’ relations as the best they have ever been.
As the Chinese President departed he told Putin: “Now there are changes that haven’t happened in 100 years. When we are together, we drive these changes.”
“I agree,” Putin said, to which Xi responded: “Take care of yourself dear friend, please.”
Putin said on the Kremlin's website: “We are working in solidarity on the formation of a more just and democratic multipolar world order, which should be based on the central role of the UN, its Security Council, international law, the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.”
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday brushed off China’s diplomacy with Russia as a “marriage of convenience.”
“In part as a result of having this very different worldview than we do, they have a marriage of convenience. I’m not sure if it’s conviction,” America’s top diplomat told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The Chinese leader’s visit to Moscow comes days after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Putin for war crimes allegedly committed in Ukraine.
The visit also comes as Russia seeks to tighten its economic ties with China facing Western sanctions.
Putin said that Russia, China and Mongolia had reached “all agreements” on the completion of a pipeline to bring Russian gas to China, and that Russia would deliver at least 98 billion cubic meters of gas to China by 2030, although a later Russian statement said details of the pipeline still needed to be ironed out.
The President also noted that Russia stood ready to ramp up deliveries of oil and gas to meet China's growing demand for energy resources.
Meanwhile, Xi barely mentioned the Ukraine file and said on Tuesday that China had an “impartial position”. There was no sign that Xi’s efforts to play the role of peacemaker had yielded results.
On her Twitter account, the spokeswoman of China’s foreign ministry said that “China has no selfish agenda on the Ukraine issue. We did not stand by, nor did we add fuel to the fire, or exploit the situation for selfish gain.”
On Monday, Blinken voiced skepticism over Xi’s “peace” proposals in Moscow, warning they could be a “stalling tactic” to help Russia on the ground in Ukraine.
“The world should not be fooled by any tactical move by Russia, supported by China or any other country, to freeze the war on its own terms,” Blinken told reporters.
The Kremlin stressed Wednesday that it was not surprised by the West's 'hostile' reaction to the Russia-China summit, during which Presidents Putin and Xi reaffirmed their alliance amid the war in Ukraine.
“As for the reaction of the collective West, the fact that on all issues this reaction took on an unfriendly and hostile nature is not news to anyone,” said Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
Putin had praised Xi for the peace plan he proposed last month, and blamed Kyiv and the West for rejecting it. The West sees China’s peace plan as a ploy to buy Putin time to regroup his forces and solidify his grip on occupied land.
China’s 12-point plan has no specific details on how to end the bloody year-long war, which has claimed tens of thousands of lives.
In an earlier joint statement the Chinese and Russian leaders accused the West of undermining global stability and NATO of barging into the Asia-Pacific region, but asserted the close partnership between China and Russia did not constitute a “military-political alliance.”
Putin and Xi had signed a joint declaration following talks on Tuesday in which they said that nuclear war can “never” be allowed to happen.
“There can be no winners in a nuclear war, and it must never be unleashed,” the statement said.