Russia’s foreign minister visits Beijing to emphasise close ties with China

Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov arrived in Beijing to display the strength of ties with close diplomatic ally China amid Moscow’s grinding war against Ukraine.

The two continent-sized authoritarian states, increasingly in dispute with democracies, seek to gain influence in Africa, the Middle East and South America.

China has backed Russia’s claim that President Vladimir Putin launched his assault in 2022 because of Western provocations, without producing any solid evidence.

Russian state news agency Tass said the ministers would “discuss the situation in Ukraine and the Asia-Pacific region, issues of bilateral co-operation and interaction in the international arena”, quoting Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova.

Ms Zakharova posted a photo on social media site Telegram showing Mr Lavrov meeting with counterpart Wang Yi but gave no information of the content of their discussions. China’s Foreign Ministry and state media had no immediate reports about the talks.

Mr Wang has visited Russia during the conflict and maintained China’s line of not dubbing the Russian war in Ukraine an invasion.

China has at times taken an equally combative tone against the US and its allies. China and Russia have held joint military drills, and are seen as seeking to supplant democracies with dictatorships in areas where they wield influence.

Despite its clear backing of Russia in the Ukraine war, China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning told reporters Monday that “China has an objective and fair position on the Ukraine issue”.

“We have been actively promoting peace talks and political solutions. China is not a creator or party to the Ukraine crisis, and we have not and will not do anything to profit from it,” she told reporters at a daily briefing.

China has also said it was not providing Russia with arms or military assistance, although it has maintained robust economic connections with Moscow, alongside India and other countries.

“We have always controlled the export of dual-use items in accordance with the law,” she said, referring to industrial items that can be used for both industrial or military purposes, such as drones.

“The relevant country should not smear or attack the normal relations between China and Russia,” she said. “The relevant country” was a reference to the US, Russia and China’s chief geopolitical rival.


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