Can Beijing stop an invasion of Ukraine, and how is China increasing collaboration with Moscow?

2 February 2022, 11:52 AM

Russia and China are close to forming an “entente,” Petro Shevchenko, an analyst and PhD student at Jilin University in China, has said in an interview with NV Radio. 

China and Russia have long been friendly with each other, stretching back to the day of the Soviet Union. In December 2021, the New York Times noted that both countries’ confrontational stances towards North American and European powers have brought that relationship even closer together.

“Both states have geostrategic and geopolitical claims against the West. The situation has many layers. China would benefit from an escalation in Europe, because it would weaken the United States in their conflict with Beijing. That is why China stands with Russia.”

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In late 2021, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping held talks that resulted in both countries agreeing to “firmly support each other on issues concerning each other’s core interests and safeguarding the dignity of each country,” according to Xi, and working on establishing a framework of international finance outside the hegemony of the U.S. dollar.

A Russian official, speaking at a briefing following the negotiations, characterized Russian-Chinese relations as one that “in its closeness and effectiveness… exceeds an alliance.”

While in practice, these words have yet to bear significant fruit on the geopolitical stage – China still refuses to recognize Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, for example – the two nations have many commonly-shared interests.

“Moscow and Beijing are aligned in their ambitions,” says Shevchenko. “Both states strive to re-establish spheres of influence in the world. Here Russian and Chinese interests overlap.”

Shevchenko also noted that a few years back, Ukraine had a chance to improve its relations with Beijing. However, at the moment, Ukraine does not even have an ambassador in China. There is not much success on the diplomatic track. At the same time, according to Shevchenko, it is unlikely that Beijing can keep Russia at bay even during the Winter Olympics if Putin decides to invade Ukraine.

“After 2014, Russia started drifting towards China and is now more economically and technologically dependent on Beijing because of the EU and U.S. sanctions,” says Shevchenko.

“That gives China leverage over Russia… Realistically and geopolitically speaking, China will benefit from a military escalation between Russia and Ukraine. Russia will be hit with even tougher sanctions and will inevitably drift even closer to China.”

Earlier, U.S. news outlet Bloomberg reported that Xi Jinping had allegedly asked Putin not to invade Ukraine during the Winter Olympics, which will be held in China from Feb. 4 to Feb. 20, in order “not to tarnish the event.”

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