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China-Russia Partnership Amid Ukraine War



  Sep 20, 2023

Russia, China, and the Ukraine War: Tensions in the 'No Limits' Relationship



The Ukraine war has exposed some tensions in the relationship between Russia and China, but it has not fundamentally shifted their close partnership.
While both countries still maintain a united front in opposing the Western-dominated international order, there are indications that China has reservations about Russia's conduct in the war.

Some key points:

"No Limits" Relationship:
Russia and China declared a "no limits" relationship in early 2022, highlighting the depth of their cooperation.
However, this language was omitted in a joint statement released in March 2023 after Xi Jinping's visit to Moscow.

Chinese Concerns:
China has expressed concerns about Russia's conduct and performance in the war.
This includes reservations about Russia's military actions and its international impact.
China has largely maintained a position of neutrality but has supported Russia's narrative of the conflict as a proxy war against the West.

Unease Over Russian Actions:
China has become alarmed by the saber-rattling of Russian political elites, including threats of using nuclear weapons.
Xi Jinping personally warned Putin against a nuclear attack on Ukraine during a visit to Moscow.

Economic and Political Goals:
The repercussions of the Ukraine war have affected China's political and economic goals.
It hoped the U.S. would be preoccupied with Europe, but that hasn't happened.
China's economic relations with Europe and the U.S. remain more important.

Diplomatic Involvement:
China has become more involved in seeking a resolution to the conflict.
It has published peace plans and engaged in diplomatic efforts, signaling its desire to participate in future discussions.

Territorial Ambitions:
China has not wholly supported Russia's territorial ambitions in the war.
Chinese officials have hinted at supporting Ukraine's return to its 1991 borders, which would include Crimea.

Close Partnership Continues:
Despite these tensions and concerns, there is no substantive indication that China is rethinking its position as Russia's closest partner.
Both countries see each other as necessary allies against a hostile West.
 
In summary, while the Ukraine war has exposed some differences in China and Russia's visions for the conflict's outcome, their partnership remains strong, driven by shared interests and a desire to counter Western influence.


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