Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko was set to arrive in China on Tuesday for a state visit as the Ukraine-Russia war had entered its second year.
Belarus is Russia’s closest ally in its war against Ukraine. Lukashenko’s government has strongly backed Moscow and allowed Belarusian territory to be used as the initial staging ground for Russia’s February 24, 2022 invasion of its sovereign neighbor. Ever since, Belarus has continued to host Russian troops, warplanes and other weapons.
China has all along claimed neutrality in the war; however, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken asserted this month, “We have information that gives us concern that [the Chinese] are considering providing lethal support to Russia in the war against Ukraine.”
And just last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted Blinken’s counterpart, Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi, in Moscow. As the pair reconfirmed the strength of their two nations’ ties, Wang said Russia would “not be overpowered” by “coercion or pressure” from other parties.
Belarus has become further isolated in Europe amid its ties to Russia. It faces economic sanctions from the European Union, which also called on the International Olympic Committee to reverse its plan to let Russian and Belarusian athletes to take part in the 2024 Paris games under neutral flags. Ukraine is among several nations calling for an Olympic boycott if Russia and Belarus get to participate during the war.
Last week, the U.S. also expanded new sanctions against Russia to include Chinese third-party companies that were evading the business bans.
Chinese state media provided no details on the Belarusian President’s arrival or any activities scheduled for Tuesday.