Putin Meets in Russia with China’s Top Diplomat

February 22, 2023

China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, arrived in Russia on Wednesday and met with Russian President Vladimir Putin two days before the one-year mark of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Wang hailed relations between Russia and China, saying their ties remained strong and would “not be overpowered” by “coercion or pressure” from other parties.

Officially, China has remained neutral in Russia’s war against Ukraine, but it has offered Russia diplomatic support. Further, U.S. officials have expressed concern that Beijing may start supporting Moscow militarily.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken—Wang’s counterpart in the U.S.—said on Sunday, “We have information that gives us concern that [the Chinese] are considering providing lethal support to Russia in the war against Ukraine.”

However, military analysts also believe pressure from Chinese President Xi Jinping has been a major factor in Putin’s having eased off the threat of using nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

Even so, U.S. officials said Russia carried out a test of an intercontinental ballistic missile on Monday, but the test appears to have failed.

Putin’s meeting with Wang comes two days after President Biden’s surprise visit to Kyiv, Ukraine, and amid his visit to NATO member nation, Poland.

On Wednesday, Biden met with members of the so-called Bucharest Nine—the eastern flank nations of NATO who coalesced in 2014 after Russia’s invasion of Crimea and remain cautious regarding their own nations’ sovereignty as its invasion of the whole of Ukraine will hit the one-year mark on Friday.

On Tuesday, ahead of Biden’s speech in Warsaw hailing Ukraine’s resilience against Russia and the solidarity of NATO, Putin delivered his State of the Nation address to the people of Russia. 

During that address, Putin announced that he was suspending participation in the 2010 New START treaty following Biden’s Ukraine visit. Only hours later, though, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said it would respect the nuclear weapons caps proposed under that treaty, and that Russia would continue to exchange information about ballistic missile test launches, as per earlier agreements with the U.S.

Meanwhile, numerous Russian pro-Putin pundits have railed against Biden’s trip to Kyiv for stealing Putin’s thunder ahead of Russia’s one-year “anniversary” of invading Ukraine, calling it a “humiliation” for Russia. 

“Almost a year after the start of the Special Military Operation, in the Russian city of Kyiv we were waiting for the president of the Russian Federation, not the United States,” said a Telegram account run by Russian army and naval service members.

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