With his visit to Moscow, Chinese President Xi clearly showed that President Putin's Russia can count on him - even in the Ukraine war. This is not a good signal for diplomacy, thinks Roman Goncharenko.
Vladimir Putin has his back against the wall in the Ukraine war. His army is not advancing, Russia's economy is weakening under Western sanctions, and the International Criminal Court's arrest warrant has isolated Russia's president like never before. However, as long as Putin has a Chinese wall behind him, the head of the Kremlin hopes even further for victory and for a new world order. The visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Moscow must have given a new impetus to this hope of Putin.
It could hardly be more symbolic than this: Xi's visit took place exactly on the day when it was nine years since the Russian annexation of Crimea. Putin himself, the day before this visit, visited for the first time the completely destroyed city of Mariupol - a site of the most terrible war crime. Thus, the head of the Chinese state conducted a three-day visit to Russia as if this brutal war did not exist. It was all accompanied by newspaper articles, in which Xi and Putin vowed their friendship as well as the close partnership "side by side" of their countries.
China keeps the Russian economy alive
The obvious result of the meeting was: even more trade. Russia, weakened by the war in Ukraine, is even more closely tied to China, but at the same time it enables it to continue this war even further. China continues to buy more and more Russian raw materials and sells more and more goods to Russia. Chinese firms are now frequenting markets that before the war were dominated by Western firms.
While quite invisible is another result of the talks on the new Chinese diplomatic initiative related to the war in Ukraine. It is highly doubtful whether Beijing is really serious about the twelve-point initiative, which Putin described as "the basis for a peaceful resolution of the conflict". Otherwise, Xi would not have expected to visit Moscow after a year of intervention, not to mention the central issue - the complete withdrawal of Russian troops. A freeze on war would currently be a victory for Putin. How serious Xi is about his offer of mediation will become clear only after he has spoken with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
It was one of those visits, when only later you realize what was discussed behind hermetically sealed doors. It is to be feared that Putin in the first place intended to inform Xi on the possible next steps in Ukraine, similar to before the intervention in February 2022. Russia in the coming weeks could intensify the offensive on the front, with brutal consequences for the population Ukrainian. If so, Moscow will apparently have China on its side, even if this is invisible from the outside.
China will prevent Russia from failing
The West is surprised and has no idea about the alliance, which is getting stronger and stronger. He is still reserved with harsh criticisms based on economic interests and hopes for diplomatic mediation. Perhaps it is thought that China may distance itself from Moscow once there are signs of a clear failure of Putin in this war. Perhaps in this case the Chinese wall that protects Putin's arms crumbles. But another scenario is more likely: China will try as much as possible to prevent Russia's failure, either through diplomacy or through open arms supplies. The West must be prepared for this.
Not long ago, in Berlin and other European capitals it was often said: "We must not push Russia into the arms of China." It was naive - because this has been happening for a long time. This embrace is getting stronger and stronger and the West would not have been able to prevent it. Xi's visit to Moscow has now highlighted this even more. /DW