1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Russia, China underline close relations amid war in Ukraine

February 22, 2023

Russian President Putin and China's top diplomat have met in Moscow saying they would deepen the already "limitless" ties between the two countries. Beijing has said it wants to play a role in ending the war in Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin and Wang Yi shake hands
Cooperation between Moscow and Beijing is 'very important to stabilize the international situation,' Putin told WangImage: Anton Novoderezhkin/ITAR-TASS/IMAGO

China's top diplomat Wang Yi met Russian President Vladimir Putin during his visit to Moscow on Wednesday.

In remarks broadcast on Russian state TV, Wang said that "the Chinese-Russian relations aren't directed against any third countries and certainly can't be subject to pressure from any third countries."

Wang also expressed Beijing's desire to position itself as a mediator in the war in Ukraine.

"The Chinese side will, as in the past, firmly adhere to an objective and impartial position and play a constructive role in the political settlement of the crisis," Russian news agency TASS quoted Wang as saying.

Putin, meanwhile, said that "cooperation between China and Russia on the world stage is very important to stabilize the international situation."

Weeks before Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine, Russia and China declared a "no limits" partnership. Beijing later refused to condemn the invasion.

He added that he was looking forward to a visit to Moscow by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Wang has met earlier with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russia's security chief Nikolai Patrushev.

The top Chinese diplomat arrived in the Russian capital on Tuesday. His visit to Moscow came shortly after US President Joe Biden visited Ukraine unannounced on Monday to underscore Washington's support for Kyiv. 

Chinese-Russian relations 'solid as a rock'

In his talks with Patrushev, Wang reaffirmed China's support for Russia and said relations between Moscow and Beijing are ''solid as a rock'' and will ''stand the test of the volatile international situation.''

Patrushev said that in its attempt to hold on to global domination, the West was trying to deter Russia and China.

Later, at his meeting with Lavrov, Wang said that Beijing "has been and remains committed, together with Russia, to make efforts to preserve the positive trend in the development of relations between major powers."

Meanwhile, Lavrov said: "Our relations are developing dynamically and, despite the high turbulence in the world arena, we exhibit cohesion and readiness to defend our interests on the basis of international respect and central role of the UN." 

Are the sanctions working?

Wang told Putin that China is willing to work with Russia to deepen political trust and extend pragmatic cooperation. He added that Beijing seeks to play a constructive role in promoting world peace and development along with Moscow.

The Chinese diplomat stressed that both Russia and China support "multipolarity and the democratization of international relations."

"Despite the unpredictability of the international situation, China and Russia always maintain their strategic resolve," Wang said.

Also on Wednesday, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Moscow was studying a newly released paper on Beijing's Global Security Initiative.

"The positions of the two countries on the most pressing international issues coincide or are close, which the Russian and Chinese leadership has repeatedly spoken about," Zakharova said.

The initiative released on Tuesday outlines what China considers core concepts and principles regarding global security.

What does this mean?

DW's Russia analyst Konstantin Eggert said the remarks by Chinese officials are meant to signify "that relations remain what they are." 

Eggert said that it was possible that Xi had sent Wang to meet Putin "to discuss things that I think are closer to the Ukrainian front." 

"Because we've heard that China wants to try and mediate between Russia and Ukraine [and] show itself as a force for peace. […] I think that the main topic was exactly this."

The analyst also said that Wang's comment that Russian-Chinese relations were not aimed at third countries was an apparent attempt from Beijing to keep its distance from Putin's war on Ukraine. 

"And it wants to reassure the US — [which is] extremely irritated by Chinese help, especially economic help, to the Kremlin — that nothing out of the ordinary will happen," he added.

Beijing has recently denied a US claim that it was considering arming its ally Moscow. The US, the EU and NATO have warned China against providing Russia with weapons for its war in Ukraine.  

Russia's fear of diplomatic isolation

Wang's Moscow trip comes at a time when Ukraine and the countries that support it are looking forward to deepening Russia's diplomatic isolation at the UN.

A draft resolution calling for Russia's withdrawal from Ukraine and a "just and lasting peace" is due to be voted on at the General Assembly later this week. 

Russia has urged the nations to vote against what it has labeled Kyiv's "unbalanced and anti-Russian" move.

fb, mf/sms (Reuters, AP)