More than 200 days have passed since President Vladimir Putin launched the “special military operation,” against Ukraine, and China has moved closer to Russia, cooperating on several vital issues. However, a recent meeting between the foreign ministers of China and Ukraine cast doubt on China’s true intentions.
On September 22, during the United Nations Security Council meeting, Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, gave a speech in which he defended Russia’s motives in the war conflict with Ukraine. Nevertheless, Putin had given the order to mobilize more troops and warned Ukraine and its allies of Russia’s enormous nuclear potential.
The warning was not well received by the UN Security Council, which includes permanent members China, France, the UK, and the United States of America.
The U.S., the UK, and the countries of the European Union declared that their support is with Ukraine, severely criticizing all Russian actions.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the international order is “being destroyed before our eyes” and that Putin “must not get away with it. … One man chose this war, and one man is the one who can end it. Because if Russia stops fighting, the war is over, and if Ukraine stops fighting, it is Ukraine that is over.”
European Council President Charles Michel said Russia should be expelled from the UN Security Council. In contrast, the British foreign secretary said, “Mr. Putin must understand that the world is watching, and we are not going to give up.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres accused Russia of violating the UN Charter and international law as Putin annexed Ukrainian territories.
“Any annexation of the territory of a state by another state as a result of the threat or use of force is a violation of the UN Charter and international law,” Guterres said.
The ICC prosecutor also accused Russia of committing “war crimes,” The United States claims that Moscow has “forcibly interrogated, detained and deported” up to 1.6 million Ukrainians to Russia since the invasion.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, “China’s position on Ukraine is clear. … The sovereignty, territorial integrity of all countries should be respected, and the reasonable security concerns of all countries should be taken seriously.”
What is China’s position on the Russia-Ukraine war?
China’s position on the Russian-Ukrainian war is moderate. Although, at the beginning of the conflict in February 2022, it transpired that Chinese leader Xi Jinping held talks with Putin, “the situation in eastern Ukraine has undergone rapid changes. … China supports Russia and Ukraine in resolving the problem through negotiation,” Xi said according to state media.
At the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit on September 15, Putin and Xi met face-to-face. The Chinese leader addressed Putin as “my old friend,” while the Russian president told him, “We highly value the balanced position of our Chinese friends regarding the Ukrainian crisis.” However, Xi Jinping did not mention anything about Ukraine in his remarks.
Since the war conflict began, China tried to avoid the position taken by the West. Its state media even published positive reports about Russia and the advancing army in Ukraine.
However, an unexpected move occurred in April this year, when Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held a phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba. As reported by Reuters, it was the first communication between the two countries, made at Ukraine’s request.
“Wars end at some point. The key is how to reflect on the pain, to maintain lasting security in Europe and establish a balanced, effective and sustainable European security mechanism,” Wang said, according to the ministry.
“China is willing to play a constructive role in this regard in an objective position.”
The Ukrainian minister publicly thanked Wang on Twitter for “his solidarity with civilian victims.”
In the framework of the UN Security Council meeting, the two ministers met again on September 22.
According to the CCP’s news agency, Wang said that “China has always been committed to promoting peace talks and does not intend to take advantage of the situation for its own interests.” Kuleba said Ukraine expects China to take a leading role in alleviating the current crisis. He further stated that Minister Wang said that China respects Ukraine’s sovereignty and rejects using force to resolve differences.
It’s the first time a senior CCP official has made such statements in person to Ukraine.
In addition, as mentioned above, Chinese state media, which published pro-Russian reports, started to change their narrative. In addition, some influencers very close to the CCP commented that Russia’s situation is “not favorable” on Chinese social networks.
Could this be a sign of change in the Asian giant’s stance on Russia’s war? Time will tell, but as with anything the CCP says, the world will have to wait and see their action to know the truth.