Europe

Putin is traveling to China to strengthen ties amid tensions in Ukraine.

Although American and European officials will be absent from the Beijing Winter Olympics due to human rights concerns.

Although American and European officials will be absent from the Beijing Winter Olympics due to human rights concerns, Russian President Vladimir Putin will be present, despite rising tensions over his country’s army buildup along its border with Ukraine.

Putin’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday will be their first in-person encounter since 2019 and is expected to assist boost Moscow-Beijing ties and coordinate policy in the face of Western pressure. Following that, the two will attend the opening ceremony of the Games.

Putin said in a Xinhua essay published on Thursday that Moscow and Beijing play a “important stabilizing role” in world affairs and assist each other.

The Russian president slammed “attempts by some nations to politicize sports for the benefit of their aspirations,” an apparent reference to the United States’ and some of its allies’ diplomatic boycott of the Olympics.

“Of course, we are completely committed to contribute to promoting and defending sports integrity as well as developing global respect for human rights,” EU spokesperson Nabila Massrali said.

“Big sporting events, such as the Olympic Games, frequently attract a worldwide audience,” Massrali explained. “They have the potential to help spread positive values and promote freedom and human rights on a worldwide scale.” Such forums, on the other hand, should not be exploited for political promotion.”

Many Western politicians are boycotting the Beijing Olympics in protest over China’s incarceration of over a million Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang region of the country’s northwest. However, leaders of ex-Soviet Central Asian countries with significant links to both Russia and China all followed Putin’s lead and attended.

“We condemn attempts to politicize sport or use it as an instrument of pressure, unfair competition, and discrimination,” Putin said in an interview with China Media Group, which was also broadcast Thursday.

Putin’s meeting with Xi and presence at the opening ceremony “announces the future promotion of the China-Russia relationship,” according to Li Xin, director of Shanghai’s University of Political Science and Law’s Institute of European and Asian Studies.

According to Li, China and Russia have become increasingly united in their opposition to what they see as the United States’ disrespect for their territorial and security concerns. Both governments have mocked the United States for its domestic problems, ranging from last year’s Capitol brawl to its struggle to regulate COVID-19.

“On the one hand, the United States and Western countries are putting pressure on Russia over the Ukraine issue, and on the other hand, the United States and Western countries are putting pressure on China over the Taiwan issue,” Li said, referring to the self-governing island democracy and US ally that China claims as its own territory. “Such strong Western pressure would only drive China and Russia to expand their collaboration.”

Putin’s foreign affairs adviser, Yuri Ushakov, praised Putin’s visit as a “vital component contributing to a sustainable world development and helping counter destructive efforts by certain countries.”

He stated that Moscow and Beijing want to produce a joint statement on international relations reflecting their shared views on global security and other matters, and that representatives from the two countries will sign more than a dozen trade, energy, and other agreements.

On most international issues, Moscow and Beijing have similar or identical positions, according to Ushakov. He made it clear that China supports Russia in the current Ukraine crisis.

“Beijing supports Russia’s security demands and shares the perspective that one state’s security cannot be guaranteed by undermining the security of another,” Ushakov said in a conference call with reporters.

In a phone meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that Moscow’s security concerns must be taken seriously and handled, signaling a significant strategic shift for Beijing.

“Previously, such professions of support for Russian actions in Eastern Europe were avoided by China,” said Vasily Kashin, a China analyst at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics. “We’re seeing a lot more unity now.”

While a formal defense alliance between Moscow and Beijing is improbable, “their collaboration will slowly deepen,” Kashin predicted.

The presence of over 100,000 Russian troops near Ukraine has fanned Western suspicions that Moscow is planning an invasion. Russia has denied plans for an invasion, but has pushed the US and its allies to make a formal commitment that NATO will not expand to Ukraine or other ex-Soviet countries, deploy weapons there, or withdraw its military from Eastern Europe – demands that the West has flatly rejected.

Some analysts believe Beijing is keeping a careful eye on how the US and its allies engage in the Ukraine crisis as it considers its next course of action on Taiwan, arguing that Washington’s inaction could push China to act unilaterally.

Putin blasted the United States and its allies of stalling Russia’s security requests on Tuesday, but he left the door open for future discussions.

He stated that NATO’s eastward expansion and a possible offer of membership to Ukraine endanger Russia’s security and violate international agreements recognizing “the indivisibility of security,” a principle that states that one nation’s security should not be bolstered at the expense of others.

If the West refuses to heed Russian demands, Putin has threatened to order unspecified “military-technical steps.” Aside from a full-fledged invasion of Ukraine, which the West fears, Putin could consider other escalatory alternatives, such as strengthening existing strong military ties with China.

Over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea, Russia and China have conducted a series of joint war games, involving naval drills and patrols by long-range aircraft. For the first time in August, Russian troops deployed to Chinese territory for joint exercises.

Despite the fact that Moscow and Beijing have previously dismissed the idea of forming a military alliance, Putin has stated that such a possibility cannot be ruled out. He also mentioned that Russia has been exchanging highly sensitive military technologies with China, which has aided China’s defense strength tremendously.

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