Putin ally Lukashenko and Chinese chief Xi Jinping vow to deepen protection ties

Hong Kong

Chinese chief Xi Jinping and Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko – an in depth ally of Vladimir Putin – vowed to deepen protection and safety ties and expressed shared views on the warfare in Ukraine throughout a Wednesday assembly in Beijing, as geopolitical tensions round Russia’s warfare proceed to rise.

Lukashenko endorsed China’s current place on a “political solution” to the battle, in line with a Chinese Foreign Ministry readout of the assembly, referring to an announcement launched by Beijing final week which referred to as for peace talks to finish the battle, however didn’t push for a Russian withdrawal from Ukraine – drawing skepticism from Western leaders.

Both Xi and Lukashenko expressed “deep concern over the prolonged armed conflict” and appeared ahead to an “early return to peace in Ukraine,” in line with a joint assertion following their sit down within the Great Hall of the People, the place Xi greeted Lukashenko in a ceremony alongside a phalanx of Chinese troops.

The go to from the Belarusian chief – who allowed Russian troops to make use of Belarus to stage their preliminary incursion into Ukraine final yr – comes as tensions between the US and China have intensified in current weeks, together with over considerations from Washington that Beijing is contemplating sending deadly support to the Kremlin’s struggling warfare effort.

Beijing has denied these claims and as an alternative sought to painting itself as an neutral agent of peace – in distinction to the United States, who it has accused of “adding fuel to the fire” within the battle and damaging the worldwide economic system with sanctions focusing on Russia.

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Speaking concerning the warfare in Wednesday’s assembly, Xi referred to as for “relevant countries” to “stop politicizing and instrumentalizing the world economy” and act in a approach to assist “resolve the crisis peacefully,” in an obvious reference to the US and its allies.

The joint assertion underscored the alignment between Minsk and Beijing on the subject of their opposition of what they see as a Western-led international order, with their joint assertion together with opposition to “all forms of hegemonism and power politics, including the imposition of illegal unilateral sanctions and restrictive measures against other countries.”

China and Belarus, which was additionally focused in hefty Western sanctions following Russia’s invasion, would additionally bolster their cooperation throughout a variety of financial areas, the assertion stated.

They additionally pledged to “deepen cooperation” on navy personnel coaching, preventing terrorism, and “jointly preventing ‘color revolution’” – a reference to well-liked pro-democracy actions autocrats allege are backed by Western governments.

The assembly, which Chinese state media described as “warm and friendly,” was the leaders’ first face-to-face since upgrading ties to an “all-weather comprehensive strategic partnership” on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit final September in Uzbekistan, which Putin additionally attended.

“Today we will jointly set out new visions for the development of the bilateral ties … Our long-lasting friendly exchanges will keep our friendship unbreakable,” Xi informed Lukashenko in the course of the assembly, in line with Chinese state media. He additionally endorsed Belarus in turning into a full member of the China and Russia-led SCO, the place it’s at present an observer state.

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Speaking the identical day from Uzbekistan, which can also be a SCO member, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated China “can’t have it both ways,” by “putting itself out as a force for peace in public,” whereas it continues to “fuel the flames of this fire that Vladimir Putin started.”

Blinken stated that there are “some positive elements” of China’s peace proposal however accused China of doing the other of supporting peace in Ukraine “in terms of its efforts to advance Russian propaganda and misinformation about the war blocking and tackling for Russia.”

He additionally repeated Western considerations that China is contemplating offering Russia with deadly support and later stated he had no plans to fulfill with Russian or Chinese counterparts at a G20 assembly for international ministers scheduled to happen in New Delhi in India on March 2.

The tightening of ties between Minsk and Beijing additionally comes alongside a years-long decline in Belarus’ relations with the West.

The former Soviet state was focused by sweeping sanctions from the US and its allies in response to Moscow’s aggression after Lukashenko allowed Russian troops to invade Ukraine via the 1,000-kilometer (621-mile) Ukrainian-Belarusian border north of Kyiv.

The European Union additionally doesn’t acknowledge the outcomes of Lukashenko’s 2020 election win – which sparked mass pro-democracy protests within the nation and have been adopted by a brutal authorities crackdown. The US has additionally referred to as the election “fraudulent.”

There have been fears all through the battle in Ukraine that Belarus will once more be used as a launching floor for one more Russian offensive, or that Lukashenko’s personal troops would be a part of the warfare. Before visiting Moscow earlier this month, Lukashenko claimed there may be “no way” his nation would ship troops into Ukraine until it’s attacked.

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Like China, Belarus has beforehand implied that the US doesn’t wish to see an finish to the battle.

In feedback to reporters earlier this month earlier than heading to Moscow to fulfill with Putin, Lukashenko maintained he wished to see “peaceful negotiations” and accused the United States of stopping Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky from negotiating.

“The US are the only ones who need this slaughter, only they want it,” he stated.